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The Fighting Temeraire: Legend of Trafalgar (Hearts of Oak Trilogy Vol.1) [Hardcover]

Sam Willis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2009 Hearts of Oak Trilogy

J.M.W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up (1838) was his masterpiece, and in a recent BBC Radio 4 poll to find the nation's favourite painting it won by a landslide, receiving over a quarter of all votes cast and fighting off Constable's The Hay Wain and other equally well-known works by Manet, Hockney and Van Gogh. Sam Willis tells the real-life story behind this remarkable painting. The 98-gun Temeraire warship broke through the French and Spanish line directly astern of Nelson's flagship Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), saving Nelson at a crucial moment in the battle, and, in the words of John Ruskin, fought until her sides ran 'wet with the long runlets of English blood…those pale masts that stayed themselves up against the war-ruin, shaking out their ensigns through the thunder, till sail and ensign dropped.' It is a story that unites the art of war as practised by Nelson with the art of war as depicted by Turner and, as such, it ranges across an extensive period of Britain's cultural and military history in ways that other stories do not. The result is a detailed picture of British maritime power at two of its most significant peaks in the age of sail: the climaxes of both the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815). It covers every aspect of life in the sailing navy, with particular emphasis on amphibious warfare, disease, victualling, blockade, mutiny and, of course, fleet battle, for it was at Trafalgar that the Temeraire really won her fame. An evocative and magnificent narrative history by a master historian.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (1 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847249981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847249982
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Dr Sam Willis is a maritime historian and archaeologist and is a
fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of the
best-selling Hearts of Oak Trilogy and the Fighting Ships Series. He
has consulted on maritime history for many clients including the BBC,Channel 4, NBC America and Christie's. Sam's work is coloured by his knowledge and
experience of seamanship. Sam's unique approach to maritime history and his vivid style of writing has led to him being described as 'A Nautical Tour de Force'.

Product Description

Review

'Absorbing and enjoyable biography …. He (Sam Willis) is a reliable and readable guide to the naval history embodied in the Temeraire. His book cleverly uses the microcosm of the life story of one ship to reflect the wider narrative of the decades-long struggle between Britain and France for mastery of the seas.' Sunday Times.



'The author has dealt with his subject on many enthralling levels from the horrific accounts of warfare at sea, through the mutiny at Bantry Bay to the ship's eventual decommissioning and use as a prison hulk' Irish Examiner.



'An absorbing and enjoyable biography' French News.

From the Inside Flap

H.M.S. Temeraire, one of Britain's most illustrious fighting ships, is known to millions through J.M.W. Turner's iconic painting, The Fighting Temeraire (1839), which portrays the battle-scarred veteran of Britain's wars with Napoleonic France being 'tugged to her last berth to be broken up'. Sam Willis tells the extraordinary story of the vessel behind the painting, and of the making of the painting itself. Turner's Temeraire was the second ship in the Royal Navy to carry the name. The first, a French warship captured and commandeered by the British in 1759, served with distinction during the Seven Years' War before being sold off in 1784. The second Temeraire, named in honour of her predecessor, was a prestigious three-decked, 98-gun warship that broke through the French and Spanish line directly astern of Nelson's flagship Victory at Trafalgar in 1805, saving the Vice-Admiral at a crucial moment in the battle. Uniting the art of war as practised by Nelson with the art of war as depicted by Turner, this tale of two ships ranges across an extensive period of British military and cultural history to create a detailed picture of Britain's maritime power at two of its most significant peaks in the age of sail: the climaxes of both the Seven Years War (1756-63) and the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815). The Fighting Temeraire covers every aspect of life in the sailing navy, with particular emphasis on amphibious warfare, disease, victualling, blockade, mutiny and, of course, fleet battle, for it was at Trafalgar that the Temeraire really won her fame. Crammed with richly evocative detail, and narrated with the pace and gusto of a master storyteller, The Fighting Temeraire is an enthralling and deeply satisfying work of narrative history from one of Britain's most exciting young historians.



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Temeraire 19 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
Having read Willis's "The Admiral Benbow" previously & having enjoyed a replica of Turner's painting in my appartment for some time now, my expectations when buying "the Fighting Temeraire" were really high. And indeed it is a good book. The story actually starts during the 7 years' war, when the British capture a French ship (a 2-decker) called Temeraire. The better-known 3-deck Temeraire of Trafalgar fame was built much later in Britain itself. The book follows the various campaigns this ship participated in (including a mutiny when the ship was sent to the Caribbean when the peace treaty of Amiens was already signed) & also discusses the typical 'second life' of wooden fighting ships of this era as floating hulks used to house French prisoners of war. The book then culminates in an eulogy of Turner's famous painting.
Overall, I think this is an excellent book. In my humble opinion, Admiral Benbow was slightly better but probably that judgement is coloured by the fact that I knew much less of Benbow's times than of Nelson's & hence learned more from the Benbow book. A nice 'extra' is the esthetically pleasing cover. Good buy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Comes To Life. 8 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is obvious from page one. This book was written by an historian with a great love of the subject.
All the facts are given in such a way that they are easily absorbed even when they seem unbelieveable.

The ship is the star of course but the men who worked above her,on her and below are brought to life in terrific detail. Sam Willis certainly did his homework.

I am looking foreward to his second book in the Hearts of Oak trilogy Admiral Benbow and then his third The Glorious First of June. Come on Dr.Willis make it a quartet!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 14 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover
I have not read a book on this subject since putting down Patrick O'Brian's 'Blue at the Mizzen' half-read (I didn't want the adventure to end). The Fighting Temeraire has re-ignited my passion for this stuff. Although it is not a novel as such, the narrative is so readable that it is still a great adventure from start to finish. Ten out of ten.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening 7 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book revealed to me just how much we owed to the ship and crew of the Temeraire. Just a great shame we broke her up, she should be a national symbol of all that is good about British culture and stoicism.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put it down 6 Nov 2010
By AliG
Format:Paperback
This is a book that is so compelling to read you don't want to put it down! It is so stuffed with facts it is almost an encyclopaedia of British maritime activities in the 16 to 18 hundreds. If it were a jam it would have 140g of fruit per 100 grams of it! Packed with nautical nuances and insights....pure delight to anyone interested in how Britain became the sea lords of that era or anyone interested in the sea, Square Riggers and sailing in general.
Go on buy it. It's not cheap but it more than makes up for it's price. A gem!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding historical read 10 Feb 2010
Format:Hardcover
This book puts the whole of the Napoleonic Wars period into perspective. A first class read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 7 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hugely readable, massively interesting book that very effectively conveys some sense of what it must have been like to live and sail in these magnificent ships, well worth a read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical ,technical, yet still exciting 24 Feb 2010
By B.Noble
Format:Hardcover
I found the explanation of sailing warships informative yet not too overburdened with technical detail.the Admirals whether English or otherwise well researched,and the battles exciting,with a sympathetic feel for the lower deck.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
There is a lot more to the stories of both the ships and the picture than I was aware of. In this book lots of facts are conveyed in a digestible manner.
Published 2 days ago by TRS
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping throughout
Excellent book. The history of the Temeraire is astounding, invading Cuba, Trafalgar, prison ship to name some and the depth of research shines through. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Peter Forster
4.0 out of 5 stars great read
I don't normally read historical records, but must admit to being captivated by this author, taking you to the heart of the action whilst also providing the historical accuracy and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J Radford
5.0 out of 5 stars Every picture tells a story
Well, this one does. In fact there are three stories here , That of the "first" Temeraire, then the second, the "fighting" one and then of the painting by Turner... Read more
Published 1 month ago by gronow
5.0 out of 5 stars BOOK
JUST A NOTHER ONE TO GO WITH MY SET OF THIS SORT OF BOOKS IT WAS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION
Published 1 month ago by R.J.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read.
I attended a lecture by Sam Willis about his book "the Hour of Victory" and consequently bought that book which was immensely enjoyable and thought provoking. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like the painting you will like this.
I have been a Turner fan for years and just had to read the book.
I found it informative about the ship, and the way people lived in the navy at that time.
Published 3 months ago by The walker
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read on the ship and the picture
A real well researched book on the subject, I hope others enjoy it has much as I did
I will now look at Turners picture in a new way.
Published 3 months ago by phill tarr
5.0 out of 5 stars Factual
Very well researched, and makes an informative and easily readable book, I couldn't put it down. A must read for anyone interested in the life and times of the late seventeenth and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Know more now than I did before
Extremely interesting, fascinating stories and a well written book about the subject of a much loved painting. I recommend it.
Published 3 months ago by Clydach
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