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A Truly Outstanding Book
on 5 December 2013
I nearly said "admirable", but I thought it would look like a bad pun on "admiral". Sam Willis really has written a very good book. I admire his ability to switch between naval history and painting. He seems to navigate between two dramatically different genres with no effort at all. He analyses the history of the "Temeraire" name - as he points out, unlike many French words, it is absolutely meaningless in English. Then he gives us a cradle-to-grave account of the actually rather short career of HMS Temeraire (much shorter than the Victory's, even before HMS Victory was installed in Portsmouth). HMS Temeraire had a very alarming lifetime, missing the Nile, but definitely making up for that omission at Trafalgar, when she tackled two French warships at the same time.
The chapter on Turner's masterpiece is utterly outstanding.