It is unfortunate that some purchasers might have bought the book expecting a technical treatise on the development of naval architecture in Russia or on Russian wooden shipbuilding techniques. The title, "... Warships in the Age of Sail: Design, Construction, Careers, and Fates <dates>" follows exactly the form of three works by Rif Winfield on the warships of the British navy in the age of sail ("British Warships ... 1603-1714," "British Warships ... 1714-1792," and "British Warships ... 1793-1847"), put out by the same publisher, Seaforth Publishing. The content and format of "Russian Warships" is largely the same as that of "British Warships," except that there is a rather longer essay on the history and organization of the Russian navy because the publisher thought that English-language readers would be less familiar with these topics, and less able to find out more about them, than they would about similar aspects of the British navy. I regret that unlike the "British Warships" series, _Russian Warships_ does not include the names of commanding officers. For those, it is still necessary to refer to the Russian-language A.A. Chernyshev, _Rossiiskii Parusnyi Flot," which is difficult to find and difficult to use if you do not have at least a smattering of Russian. It was the latter difficulty that prompted the publication of _Russian Warships_. _Russian Warships_ also corrects errors that author Eduard Sozaev found in Chernyshev.
_Russian Warships in the Age of Sail_ covers "design" by naming the *designer* of each warship and grouping warships of a common design. Each "class" also includes commentary about its relationships to other designs; piecing together these short essays on several classes of a common type (e.g., 66-gun ship of the line) produces a more extended essay on Russian development of the type. "Construction" information includes, for each ship, dates of keel laying and launch, place of construction, and the "constructor"--the person overseeing the building of the ship. The last is not generally included in the "British Warships" series, although private yards are named as places of construction.
How to treat place names that have changed over the centuries is always a challenge. It is now vicious racism to refer to Mumbai as anything else, although Bharat is still not de rigeur for its country. The erasure of Mumbai's former name from modern maps and histories makes older histories, including first-person accounts, difficult to understand. So it is with "Tallin." Naval histories like R.C. Anderson's still definitive _Naval Wars in the Baltic_ and the more recent _A History of War at Sea_, by Helmut Pemsel, describe a "Battle of Revel" or "Reval" (Pemsel puts "Tallin" in parentheses). The presence of a Russian on the authoriship team influenced the use of "Gogland"--merely "Hogland" in Russian, which has neither the sound of Swedish (and English) "h" nor a letter for it (see the entry on HIRMS Gamburg on p. 191 of _Russian Warships_). Just as with transliterations, for which there are many slightly differing systems, it is not always possible to find a name that is recognizable and acceptable to all readers for a place that has undergone many changes in sovereignty and language.
A multi-volume publication reproducing all the plans still extant in the Russian naval archives would have been a wonderful reference work that would consume a year's, or several years', acquisitions budget at many libraries, and would have been out of reach financially of all but the very wealthiest purchasers. As with the "British Warships" series, Mr. Sozaev selected *representative* illustrations, within a budget that had to reflect both the cost of reproduction and the compensation demanded by the owners of the illustrations.