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Wooden World [Paperback]

N. A. M. Rodger
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: £13.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 July 1996
Meticulously researched, Rodger's portrait draws the reader into this fascinatingly complex world with vivid, entertaining characters and full details of life below the decks. The Wooden World provides the most complete history of a navy at any age, and is sure to be an indispensable volume for all fans of Patrick O'Brian, English history, and naval history.

Frequently Bought Together

Wooden World + The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 + The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol 1: 660-1649
Price For All Three: £45.99

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (17 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393314693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393314694
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

[Rodger] provides the reader with the most authoritative and enjoyable text on the subject that can be imagined. --Patrick O'Brian"

From the Back Cover

Until the publication of 'The Wooden World' the British Navy in the eighteenth century was one of the great puzzles of history. The traditional picture is of a floating hell, manned by miserably paid wretches, cowed by the lash and almost permanently drunk. How then did it achieve a fighting record of brilliant success and a reputation for formidable efficiency?

'The Wooden World' brilliantly dissects eighteenth-century naval society, lays out clearly how the navy worked, and what life was really like below decks. The picture Nicholas Rodger paints not only completely overturns the traditional view, but is probably one of the most complete portraits we have of a navy of any age.

"This excellent book, both scholarly and readable, gives us a new approach to the eighteenth century British Navy, which helps to explain it's 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'

"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 Year War."
RICHARD HOUGH, 'Daily Telegraph'

"A splendid book, which opens many new vistas on life on the Navy in particular and…on eighteenth-century British society in general."
IAN CHRISTIE, 'History Today'

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for the amateur historian. 29 Oct 2002
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must-have for every naval history buff; this amazingly detailed & incredibly well-researched book dispels a lot of urban legends and sets the record straight of a much-maligned Naval Administration (at least for the 7-years war period covered:- 1754-1765) - I just wish the same could be done during the Napoleonic era, as a comparison.
Dr. Rodger debunks the poular view of the rule of rum, sodomy and the lash ... it's hard to reconcile the amazing fighting record of HMRN with a mental picture of drunken, debilitated incompetents. As with most urban myths, the exception becomes the rule instead of proving it; but the Appendix shows the low rates of desertion after the 1st month, which seems inconsistent with routine brutality (with a very few exceptions).
Dr. Rodger writes with real authority (having worked in the Public Records Office and the Naval History Society) and a succinct informative style that isnot iver-descriptive nor too academic - although the wealth of references make this an ideal vehicle for anyone wishing to do more research (a full fifth of the book is appendix, references & bibliography) - the information is ordered, yet naturally flows from section to another, making for compulsive reading.
Tantalisingly he drops in little snippets of information that make you want to know more, but that would vastly increase the size of the book - the references are there should you want to pursue the matter.
Ideally, this should be read before any other naval books, but I fear that information overload would deter anyone not already primed with some background of naval history / terminology.
A great book and a welcome addition to any historian's library. *****
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
A social rather than narrative history, Rodger examines the working of the navy... from the boys, seamen and officers manning the men-of-war to the Admirality at the time of the Seven Years War (1755-1763).
The complex organisation of society on board a man-of-war is examined in depth. The myth of the navy of that time being based on harsh and brutal discipline is soon, surprisingly perhaps, dispelled. Punishments were rare and usually light, seamen having far more freedom and liberty than would be tolerated in the modern service. Seamen were valuable experienced experts and in short supply at time of war. The Admiralty took great efforts over their care especially in terms of diet (meat four times a week was more than most landsmen could hope for) and medical needs were addressed with new hospitals (including Haslar - at the time the largest brick building in Europe) established. Grievances were taken seriously and investigated - more than one captain was replaced after complaints from seamen. It becomes apparent that the whole ship's company cooperated to create a smooth and efficient machine, which greatly aided British superiority at sea.
The problem of finding seamen is examined - the use of the impress gangs was widely detested, although they did not round up all and sundry but only those who worked at sea. Desertion was guarded against, but great lenience was exercised in dealing with defaulters, especially those who had merely absented themselves for a few days. This should not imply that all seamen sought to escape - very few true desertions took place and there were always experienced seamen who volunteered for service.
A very interesting topic is the use of patronage and interest in the promotion of officers.
Read more ›
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
One of the key problems about looking at a social history of the navy is the dearth of up to date secondary material. Professor N.A.M. Rodger is one of the foremost authorities on naval history in the world, and is at the forefront of most new research on all aspects of naval history.
This book is essential for anyone studying naval history - it is easily accessible and provides a good reference point for all aspects of social history in the Georgian navy, from the Admiralty, Navy, Victualling and Health boards to Manning, Punishment and Life aboard ship. This book really helped me through my undergraduate course and is proving equally useful for my postgraduate course.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 27 Sep 2005
Format:Paperback
Even the general reader will find this useful book absolutely fascinating. The author uses a rich legacy of archive material to bring to life the real Royal Navy of the Georgian period and in so doing blows away some of the misconceptions surrounding it. For example; ships were kept scrupulously clean and bedding was aired daily, if possible. Also, the Admiralty bought only the best produce to feed the crews and new methods of preservation and stock rotation were developed. Absorbing stuff.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for the amateur historian. 29 Oct 2002
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must-have for every naval history buff; this amazingly detailed & incredibly well-researched book dispels a lot of urban legends and sets the record straight of a much-maligned Naval Administration (at least for the 7-years war period covered:- 1754-1765) - I just wish the same could be done during the Napoleonic era, as a comparison.
Dr. Rodger debunks the popular view of the rule of rum, sodomy and the lash ... it's hard to reconcile the amazing fighting record of HMRN with a mental picture of drunken, debilitated incompetents. As with most urban myths, the exception becomes the rule instead of proving it; but the Appendix shows the low rates of desertion after the 1st month, which seems inconsistent with routine brutality (with a very few exceptions).
Dr. Rodger writes with real authority (having worked in the Public Records Office and the Naval History Society) and a succinct informative style that is not over-descriptive nor too academic - although the wealth of references make this an ideal vehicle for anyone wishing to do more research (a full fifth of the book is appendix, references & bibliography) - the information is ordered, yet naturally flows from one section to another, making for compulsive reading.
Tantalisingly he drops in little snippets of information that make you want to know more, but that would vastly increase the size of the book - the references are there should you want to pursue the matter.
Ideally, this should be read before any other naval books, but I fear that information overload would deter anyone not already primed with some background of naval history / terminology.
A great book and a welcome addition to any historian's library. *****
Comment | 
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent for the histroy buffs
Published 1 month ago by Paul Waite
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking brutality in the sailing navy
A myth buster and an excellent read. The talents of leadership and the loyalty of the crews to their officers kept these ships efficient.
More Bolitho and less Blythe in tone. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Quite an academic tome but keeps interest all the way through - one for the Master and Commander fans out there.
Published 16 months ago by keeperofthekiwi
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book
This is a very well researched and written book detailing the inner workings of the British Navy, mostly during the Seven Years War, but much of it applicable to the whole... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tallyorkist
4.0 out of 5 stars New view of old navy
Novels and films have conditioned us to see the 18th-century navy as one of hell-ships, with mad captains, sadistic officers and weevils in the food. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2010 by John Humbach
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb.
Possibly the best maritime history book ever written. Certainly the best book about life on board the ships of the mid 18th Century Royal Navy. Read more
Published on 26 July 2007 by Doctor Syn
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet to be surpassed
Published a few years ago but has yet to be surpassed or discredited. A wonderful book for anyone studying the Royal navy in this period. Read more
Published on 14 Sep 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent social, rathat than military, history.
An excellent description of the Navy as a social object, a functioning organisation, rather than a description of its exploits. Read more
Published on 12 April 2001 by Alec Cawley
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