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Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol. 1: 660-1649: 660-1649 v. 1 [Hardcover]

Nicholas A. M. Rodger
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 1997
This history examines the British Navy as an institution as well as an agent of national policy. It describes actions in war and peace, but also its administrative, political, social, economic, financial and technical history, setting each in the context of the deveolopment of society at large. It is not so much a history of the Navy but a naval history of the country. It also looks at the British Navy in an international context.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins / National Maritime Museum; First American Edition edition (1 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002551284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002551281
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 297,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves...." The dominance of the British Royal Navy in maritime history is legendary, but this has not always been the case. Various attempts to build and sustain a national standing navy were attempted by a number of rulers, from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century to Henry V in the 15th century. It wasn't until the Tudor reign (1485 to 1603), however, that a permanent, effective navy emerged. Until this time the shores of Britain had been susceptible to attack and invasion. N.A.M. Rodger's compendium on the history of the Royal Navy (the first of a four volume set) reminds us that "the successful navies have been those which rested on long years of steady investment in the infrastructure ... of a seagoing fleet." Emphasizing the important role the Tudors played in building the financial foundation for the navy, Rodger focuses on the role of Elizabeth I's administration and the amount of money shipbuilding absorbed during her reign. He also traces the evolution of professionalism in the navy, demonstrating how the rank of naval officer became socially respectable, even though it was not exclusively open to just nobles--indeed, Francis Drake came from an impoverished background--setting a standard that would see the British navy dominate the oceans for many years.

A fellow in the British National Maritime Museum, Rodger's unique understanding of this history comes across well as he explores a number of themes, ranging from policy and strategy to ship and weapon design. He gathers this information from Anglo-Saxon, Danish, French, Irish, and Spanish sources, carefully weaving these materials into an immense tapestry of incredible depth and scope. In years to come The Safeguard of the Sea promises to be the definitive account of British naval history long after Britannia has stopped ruling the waves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


From the reviews of The Wooden World:

‘The fullest, brightest and altogether most readable picture that I know of the Royal Navy that beat the Spanish and French navies in the Seven Years’
Richard Hough, Daily Telegraph

‘This excellent book, both scholarly and readable, gives us a new approach to the 18th-century British Navy, which helps to explain its historic achievement and illuminates the society of which it was a characteristic and resounding expression throughout the world.’
A. L. Rowse

‘A deeply satisfying book firmly based on new evidence but highly readable; it is enlivened by a multitude of startling and hilarious incidents, recounted with style and wit, and a whole gallery of amazing characters, from ratings to admirals.’
John Kenyon, Observer

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
The peoples and polities of the British Isles in the Dark Ages were linked not by the accident of dwelling in the same part of the world, but by the seas and rivers which provided their surest and swiftest means of travel. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 21 Mar 2005
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read Professor Rodger's excellent 'Wooden World' I was expecting much of the same and was not disappointed - this is an impeccably researched and erudite alternative history of England and its French dominions, which puts the naval element into full perspective .
Absolutely chock-full of notes and references, this nontheless flows as well as any historical novel, highlighting the hitherto unseen good and bad points of the various rulers of the day, and the key role that naval support provided, giving a new slant on history and politics. There are more twists and turns to the story than any TV soap could possibly invent.
What comes across loud and clear is the futility of war: the waste of money and resources in the pursuit of expansion is illustrated by the singular lack of success by all parties to make any substantial territorial gains - French, Dutch, Flemish, Scots or Scandinavian.
Imbedded in the politics is a reasoned overview of the development of the ship; from longboat and cog, through galley, hulk and caravel to the rise of the 3-masted ship-rigged vessel which came to dominate naval warfare in the following 200 years. The gradual change from supply and support vessel to an active ingredient of the war machine develops as technology improves, and the viability of funding a navy become more financially and logistically sound.
As one might expect from a work of this scope, the text is rounded off with a conclusion condensing the preceding 1000 years into a précis with the author's informed slant. There are 5 appendices (chronology, ships, fleets, pay & officials), a large reference, glossary, abbreviations and a huge bibliography.
For a complete overview of the mediaeval history of the British Isles, you can't go far wrong with this excellent book. Then read the follow-up - twice as large, covering a third of the time. *****
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb survey of Britain's early naval power 8 Jan 2005
Though numerous books have been written about the battles, ships and heroes of the Royal Navy, surprisingly few have been written about the "naval history" of Britain - that is, the role that sea power has played in shaping its history. To rectify this, N.A.M. Rodger has written this book, the first of what is projected to be a three-volume history of Britain's sea power from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day.

Britain's beginnings as a naval power were hardly auspicious. For centuries, most English kings eschewed maintaining a standing naval force, preferring to rely instead on conscripting merchant ships in time of need. That this was possible was due in part to the nature of naval warfare during the Middle Ages, which was largely an extension of land warfare; battles consisted of the crews of opposing ships engaging in hand-to-hand combat, almost always in the shallows or just off the coast. Yet Rodger notes that naval power was invaluable in granting mobility to an attacking force, a fact that was lost on most medieval English kings. Of their ranks, Rodger sees only Richard I and Henry V as understanding the value of sea power, and he credits both the French and the Castilians for superior strategic thinking in naval warfare during this period.

Though Rodger notes that both naval technology and combat tactics began to change in the 15th century, it was the 16th century that saw the emergence of England as a sea power. This he credits to the creation of an administrative structure to support the navy, a development lacking during the medieval period. This provided support for a standing force that could quickly and effectively be mobilized to deal with naval threats, as it was in 1588 to face the Spanish Armada.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Safeguard of the Sea: 27 Oct 2004
NAM Rodger has confirmed his position as one of Britain's foremost naval historians. This very readable volume of what promises to be the definitive history of the Royal Navy, is both authoritative and illuminating. Covering the birth, rise and decline of the Royal Navy up to mid 17th century, Rodger provides the reader with a detailed analysis of the ships, men and organisation in place at the time. Supported by a large bibliography this is a book for the scholar or casual historian with an interest in Maritime affairs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book 10 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like all navy books by NAM Roger this is a very well informed and well written book. It should be read with the other two in order to get the full history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed Naval History 18 April 2010
The Safeguard of the seas is a seminal work, full of interesting detail and new research. It includes details of Scottish Naval History which is usually ignored in similar histories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read 9 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My son suggested I read two books by N A M Rodgers. I was always of the opinion primary source material was for obvious reasons in short supply and limited to interpretation of one sort or another.
I was wrong in the case of N A M Roberts. His books were a revelation, splendid examples extensively researched material woven together with fine prose, and not cobbled together to suit an argument.
If you really want to known how how our navy came into existence, you must read these books and the Wooden World, this is a study of life on board sailing ships.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb read 28 Dec 2013
By Simon L
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Can't say I've ever been interested in the development of the English navy (or any navy to be honest). I was bought the second book in the series as a present. I started to read it as I was bored (and immobile after an operation). Was so impressed and inspired by that book by the same author, that I bought myself the first book. Absolutely superb. Really detailed but very readable. Even if you are a navy historical ignoramus as I was, the layout and writing style is so good that not only is the subject understandable but becomes incredibly fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I have not received my purchase yet...
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Please be informed that I have not received my purchase yet. After the purhase is received I could write a review. Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2012 by Peyko Angelov
As N.A.M. Rodger explains when he sets sail at the beginning of this book, this is much more than a history of the British Navy - it is a complete naval history of Britain; and the... Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2011 by Stephen Cooper
3.0 out of 5 stars N.A.M. Rodgers - Safeguard of the Sea
I have already given a feedback, and complained about the way the paperback was packaged. I have been in touch with the seller, but have not recieved a reply.
Published on 9 Sep 2010 by John Royle
5.0 out of 5 stars The Safeguard of the Sea
A superbly written and researched publication,and so unlike many books that you read just the once Safeguard of the Sea can be used for reserch in naval history,and the formation... Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2010 by Mr. Derek Chaplin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, thought-provoking
Quite possibly the best synopsis of any country's naval development in any time and place currently available. Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, continually surprising
An extraordinarily well researched history which threw up continual surprises. Mightily looking forward to the volume dealing with Napoleonic times.
Published on 24 April 2000 by Mr. A. A. Smith
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