'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.