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Empire of the Deep: The Rise and Fall of the British Navy Hardcover – 25 Jul 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (25 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297864084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297864080
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.8 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

One of our finest young historians...With such a variety of peaks and troughs to choose from, this book can only generate discussion: it is, in its essence, a book about rise and fall that explodes the notion of rise and fall. It is a wonderful book because it does not tell the answer from on high but, instead, it asks the question: what do you think? (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Wilson tackles this formidable canvas with zeal and spirit. He is strong on strategy and analysis, yet also throws himself into the great battle scenes, of which his account of the battle of the Nile in 1798 is particularly effective. (NEW STATESMAN)

Compelling...Wilson's mastering of 1,500 years of naval history is no small achievement. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Superb...crisply and clearly composed by Ben Wilson (BOOK OF THE WEEK THE TIMES)

My only regret was in finishing this fascinating and thought-provoking account. (THE SPECTATOR)

The fighting, blood-and-guts side of naval life is portrayed by Wilson with great skill...A charming book. (Kwasi Kwarteng EVENING STANDARD)

Spanning the period since the Romans left until now, Empire of the Deep: The Rise and Fall of the British Navy is a sprawling, magisterial account of how Brittania came to rule the waves. (METRO)

The author...writes with such brio and passion about the subject. (THE CATHOLIC HERALD)

Wilson has a brilliant flair for addressing very current questions with reference to the past. (BBC WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?)

Empire of the Deep by Ben Wilson is an engaging history of the British navy from King Alfred to the Thames pageant at last year's Diamond Jubilee. (CHOICE MAGAZINE)

In this enlightening book, the author rightly argues that it is necessary to go back more than a thousand years to understand the history of the Royal Navy. (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

An entertaining and erudite tale (WARSHIPS INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW)

Wilson charts and celebrates a 1,000-year love affair between our islands and the seaborne branch of the armed forces...The sea boils and timbers creak as you read this smart, salty, invigorating work. (Dan Jones THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Books of the Year)

Wilson charts and celebrates a 1,000-year love affair between our islands and the seaborne branch of the armed forces...The sea boils and timbers creak as you read this smart, salty, invigorating work. (Dan Jones THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, History Books of the Year)

Book Description

A landmark history of the British Navy from King Alfred to the 21st century.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Ben Wilson has written a magnificent book about the rise and fall of the British Navy. His previous books, for example, 'What Price Liberty' sold well.
The naval historian N A Rodger has written two massive books on the command of the ocean that cover the period 660 to 1815. The final volume of his masterly trilogy is eagerly awaited.

Meanwhile Ben Wilson, originally a political historian, has written a major work of scholarship in a single volume of some 720 pages that focuses on the whole sweep of Britain's maritime history. He writes:'The British sense of national identity was in large part forged at sea'. He says we 'forget that at our peril'.

His book covers the period from the Saxons to the recent Defence Review, a review that has been widely criticised. He discusses, for example, in detail the Merchant Warriors, Defence of the Realm 1399 to 1509, the New Model Navy 1642-1652, The Science of War 1772-1779, Nelson's victories, naval matters in the World Wars, and the major naval events up to 2013.
His bibliography is superb and his illustrations and maps are of a very high quality.

Wilson tells us that Darwin was shown HMS Caledonia an enormous 120-gun ship of the line before he departed on his epic voyage in the Beagle. Darwin said that on coming near her:'her hum is like that of a town'. Darwin also described the state of below decks on HMS Beagle, 'everything was so clean that it put to shame many a gentleman's house'.

The author reminds us that the Royal Navy was, after Trafalgar,'an unassailable world force'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve on 7 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent and comprehensive account of the English, then the British Navy. The only thing I would say that was skimmed over though was the War of 1812 as it just mentioned that there was a few frigate confrontations which the Royal Navy mainly lost. Apart from that, the book mentions most of the main admirals and battles as well as the times the fleet was laid up and often rotting away and neglected between wars. Lessons should be learnt by the politicians of this country as Britain is an island nation, dependent on the sea lanes for 96% of everything we import and consume. Around the world there are choke points such as the Gulf of Hormuz and the Suez Canal which can be blockaded. Only ships can deal with these problems and we neglect the Navy at our own risk. When the price of food and petrol go through the roof and we no longer have the ships to do anything about it, only then will the British come out of their sea blindness and appreciate the role of the Royal Navy. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the history of English/British sea power.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert A J Jones on 7 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben Wilson has managed to cover a vast timescale - Pre-Norman to present day, whilst maintaining interest all the way through.
Needless to say it is packed with information, the result of thorough research and understanding.
It gives a convincing argument as to how the nations commercial interests and maritime power were inextricably linked. It also makes comments on the present situation.
It dwells a lot on the ability, or in some cases lack of, of the Navy's leaders and makes it clear how great an admiral Nelson was.
This is a concise yet complete history of the British Navy that makes for a thoroughly good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lewis Whiting on 9 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives a vivid account of how Navies were made and how they grew,
How technology changed with time, and how this affected the lives of the sailors.
Sadly, this often meant more efficient means of destroying other ships, and other men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mature User on 27 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is almost impossible to put down, but it is so riveting that you also want to make it last!. Wilson brilliantly and concisely charts the Navy's development over a millennium, At times. it was in serious decline, but common sense and reason prevailed and a number of close calls worked out well in the end, chiefly through the unique British character and qualities. The Navy was indispensable and central to the development of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DBWM on 16 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Terrific! I am only about a quarter through this excellent book, but it really is a great read. The text is never dry, or wordy, or boring - and it reads rather like a good thriller in some respects. If you are looking for an all-in-one history of the British navy, you really could do a lot worse than acquiring this book. I am no expert - far from it - but I do love a good read, and this is exactly what this is. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M.Rogers on 4 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought the book well researched and well written. Ideal for anyone interested in British Naval history. An interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy D Cotton on 2 Mar. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very interesting book. A lot of detail that I didn't previously know. The best description of the battle of trafalgar that I've read.
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