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The Glorious First of June: Fleet Battle in the Reign of Terror (Hearts of Oak Trilogy) Paperback – 27 Sep 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (27 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849160392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849160391
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,403 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

'With his great gift for making complex events exceptionally clear, and an authentically salty understanding of the workings of wind, sea, sail and rig, this is a brilliant and subtly nuanced account' Sunday Times.

'Those who would attempt to explain a great battle at sea in the age of sail need salt water in the veins and a skilled pen. In this marvellous book Dr Sam Willis proves that he has both' BBC History Magazine.

'One of the things that makes Willis such a joy to read is the blazing clarity of his explanations. By the time you've finished his book you'll appreciate every nuance of naval tactics' Mail on Sunday.

'His portrayal [...] serves as a model for future studies' International Journal of Maritime History.

'Willis's matchless grasp of historical detail brings it vividly to life' Mail on Sunday.

'Willis brings a welcome pace and energy to what might otherwise have been a dry account of a rarely remembered sea battle' Glasgow Sunday Herald.

From the Inside Flap

France, early summer, 1794. The French Revolution has been hijacked by the extreme Jacobins and is in the grip of the Terror. While the guillotine relentlessly takes the heads of the innocents, two vast French and British fleets meet in the mid-Atlantic. The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming 'La Republique ou la mort!' are escorting an American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, are bent on destroying it. The ensuing clash would swiftly become known as the hardest-fought battle of the Age of Sail. Both sides claimed victory. For the French, it represented a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In purely numerical terms 'the Glorious First of June' was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than a century: 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded - ten per cent of their entire maritime workforce. In The Glorious First of June, Sam Willis not only tells, with immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he places it within the context of the Terror, the survival of the French Revolution and the development of both British and French sea-power in this critical period before the rise of Nelson and Napoleon. Using countless new sources, the human experience and cost of the battle in both Britain and France is described in fascinating detail. The Glorious First of June is the last in the Hearts of Oak trilogy and, like The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, is a thrilling account of the Great Age of Sail by one of our most exciting young historians.

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ruf on 8 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book is certainly brilliant. The preparation to the battle and the battle itself are most interesting and very well written.
There are some few clear illustrations included.
In Appendix II there is a comparison between the ships of the British and the French fleet.I think it is a misunderstanding concerning the length of the gun-decks..
The measurement of the British ships are correct. To the dates of the French ships we have to add about 6 % more because the French foot (pied) is longer.
For instance most 80 gun ships of the French fleet had a length between 193 and 197 feet in English measurement. The big Montagne measured almost 208 feet.
Usually French ships were mostly longer and faster than the British.

All in all it is a ecxellend book well worth the reasonable price.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By M. Baerends on 28 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Glorious First of June is the third and final part of Willis's "Hearts of Oak" trilogy. Having read both "Admiral Benbow" and "Fighting Temeraire" my expectations were sky-high. And they were exceeded.

As in the other parts of this trilogy, Willis does a great job in not just treating the battle itself, but expanding widely into the various backgrounds. This book is primarily about the battle of the same name as the title, fought on the Atlantic in 1794. But the reader also gets educated in late 18th century theatre technology, maritime painting, the chaos in revolutionary France, the world of the Caribbean plantations and what have you not.

Willis is a first class storyteller and he has got detailed knowledge of sailing warfare. For example, he dispels various myths such as 'being on the windward side is always preferable' or 'British gunners shot at French hulls and French gunners only at British rigging and masts'. Even people who read a lot about warships in the age of sail will still learn a lot (who knew that Nelson fought an action in the beginning of the war in Agamenon, a 64 gunner, against a much smaller French frigate of 40odd guns in which Nelson was almost beaten by the spirited French?).

The story covers the French revolution, the first naval clashes between France and Britain including John Jervis's (later to become Lord St. Vincent) plunder campaign in the Caribbean and the destruction of much of the French fleet at Toulon, before turning into the real run-up to battle.

Willis makes the point that at this time (1793/94) the British navy was not THAT much better than the French. Its officers were far more experienced but its crews were mostly raw.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greg on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Glorious First of June was the largest (and longest - 1 June 1794 was the last day of a running battle which started on 28 May) naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars. Yet it has been overshadowed in both popular memory and historical analysis by the battles of the Napoleonic Wars and Nelson's famous victories. This book provides a very detailed examination of not just the naval battle itself, but the political background in England and France which led up to it, the social, political, naval and even artistic aftermath, and the human aspects. There are also very extensive appendices of biography, terminology, context and illustration. Pretty much indispensable for anyone interested in the "Age of Sail" or in the background of the Napoleonic Wars and the later actions of the Royal Navy. The only possible fault is a style which is not quite as tight and coherent as, say, N.A.M. Rodger's, more akin to a story being told than an analysis, but that does not significantly detract from the value of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr George R I Clarke on 28 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
By far the best account available of this battle. Oliver Warner's classic book at last replaced by a glorious successor. The new book really explains the significance of the battle as well as describing the battle itself. The colour illustrations are well chosen. A particular delight are the various appendix which again well illustrated. In summary, one of the best naval history books available & a must for anyone having an interest in the sailing navy.
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If your interested in the age of the French Revolution and it's aftermath then this is the book for you.
It tells the story of a sea battle,a forerunner of Traffalger and the Nile and Britain's first real success
at sea against the French for some time.It describes the events leading up to the Battle and afterwards.
It deals with the considerable short comings on both sides and praises the French for not avoiding I the
conflict.An easy read if you like the subject.

Ger
It
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hazel H on 27 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Again another triumph by Sam Willis a truly gifted historian and communicator. I first bought the trilogy for my husband but found myself 'devouring' the pages myself ... am I becoming interested in marine history?? I think perhaps I am - but I feel that's only because of the sheer mastery of the subject shown by Sam Willis. Fantastic, can't recommend it highly enough.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Following the reign of terror of the French Revolution, the fleet encounter of the 'glorious first of June' heralded the beginning of the long series of sea battles, chases and blockades which climaxed on 21 October 1805 at Trafalger. The Revolutionary War were followed by the Napoleonic Wars, which finally ended in 1815 with Wellington's hard won victory at Waterloo. Thus twenty-three years of almost continuous conflict began on that memorable 'first of June'.
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