A chance find during some routine research revealed an amazingly detailed personal diary of one of Britain's "Star Captains", Graham Moore, written during the Napoleonic Wars - all 37 volumes of it!
Tom Wareham carefully and sensitively edits the diary and fleshes out the narrative with pertinent background information. The result is not so much a tale of derring-do, but more an insight into the fears and insecurities that beset the average young man. These insecurities are tempered by by a deep personal need to succeed and a revulsion of the strutting of his peers and the excessive punishments meted out by his superiors.
Moore's conscience struggles with the conflict between his innate humanitarian instincts and the vital need to instill discipline, obedience and, more to the point, respect, in the crew in order to command an efficient fighting machine. This of course is essential if he is to achieve his goal of personal success - he doesn't give a fig for recognition or accolade, which gives the lie to the generally perceived image of dandy commanders parading their full-dress bullion and cockades, vying for promotion. His lust for promotion is solely to position himself into some serious naval action.
The background intrigue and the secretive machinations of the Navy Board are just as interesting as the action sequences, but what sets this above the norm are the revealing post-action comments, where Moore beats himself up; Could it have been done better? What if ...? The butcher's bill ... all of which reinforce the continuous thread of a caring, sympathetic attitude to men under his command and his dedication to the Service.
A wonderfully illuminating read. *****
on 7 February 2005
Tom Wareham gives an in-depth study of Graham Moore, a RN frigate commander during the Napoleonic wars. The reader shares Moore's joys, despair, and the loneliness of command.
This book is a valuable companion to his previous study of frigate command in general - The Star Captains - and a must for anyone interested in the subject.
Graham Moore was regarded as what we would call today a "Star Performer" as he served aboard HM Frigates between 1793 and 1804. He was present during the Naval Mutiny of 1797 and helped destroy the French Fleet off Ireland the following year. Six years later he captured a Spanish Frigate carrying a fortune in treasure and as commander of HMS Indefatigable was involved in the opening stages of the Trafalgar campaign.
This book is based on his private journals written during his time as a Lieutenant through to Captain RN and gives modern historians a valuable insight into the problems associated with turning one of HM Frigates - with it's largely motley crew, into an efficient and effective fighting machine.
Tom Wareham was born in Portsmouth, the son of a serving Naval Officer and was, therefore, raised in an environment of Royal Navy culture, practises and traditions. In 1991 he was awarded a PhD by Exeter University for his research into the activities of the Royal Navy's Frigate commanders during the Great War with France. He is currently Curator of Docklands Museum, London.
Frigate Commander is a hardback book measuring approx 9½in x 6½in and is packed with over 280 pages of text with a small collection of relevant photographs set together in the middle. Beginning in 1784, the author takes the reader on a fascinating journey through Moore's life in which his own extremely readable narrative style is interspersed with direct extract from Moore's journal.
Altogether a well written and fascinating insight into life on board a series of Royal Navy ships and the life that went with them at one of the most interesting times in British naval history.
on 10 October 2014
A wonderful book which shows the human side of one of the Star Captains of the Napoleonic Wars. I was astonished to find Graham Moore had the ability to make me giggle, but I'm afraid I can't say why without spoiling the story. Suffice to say as a mother myself I empathise completely with his mum!
This is the tale of a warm, caring man, who undertook his duty with courage and dedication, both to his men and his country. It's heart warming and at times very sad, but Graham's humanity always comes shining through. A book well worth reading.
on 22 February 2006
I purchased this book having read all of the Patrick O'Brian series and wanted to further my knowledge of the real Royal Navy of the time, and get a flavour of the manner in which Captains progressed through their careers. This book was perfect for the job, it was really well researched and presented and was interesting to read from start to finish. I thoroughly recommend it.
on 1 March 2013
I was delighted to read of Captain Graham Moore's life and exploits in Wareham's well-researched book, FRIGATE COMMANDER. Though scholarly, it flows in the writing style of good fiction. I find the primary source excerpts of Moore's prose most readable and, though unlikely, would love to read the complete collection of the captain's journals. The fact Moore is a peace-loving man and a `romantic' at heart makes him an engaging character. But also, this biography gives an insight into the relationship between a senior naval officer and his men and, in doing so, dispels many of the myths about the treatment meted out to crew aboard fighting ships during the Napoleonic War era.
A recommended addition to anyone's nautical collection.