First things first, it's all here! Maybe that's a problem, whether you want to know about recruitment systems, pay, battles or ship design it's all in this book. They are all discussed in great depth and length. This book "does exactly what it says on the tin" (to quote an advert) and if it's British and floated during this period it's discussed in this doorstop of a book. The research is first class and the explanations are always lucid.
My other nagging concern is this is the pinnacle of the greatest maritime power the world has ever seen. Epic battles, great exploration, larger than life characters- it should be fun, exciting, breathless. Instead, while the style isn't turgid, it lacks the zest and narrative style needed to suck the reader into the moment Nelson is shot or the battle at Quiberon bay.
The more I think about it, the more I think that that's the issue. The style is too consistent, discussing the evolution of the ships of the line is important but it shouldn't be written the same way as era defining battles on the sea where great empires clash for world supremacy.
So this is a very well researched book and if you want to know everything about this period then this is the book for you but be warned that while it can make the dry areas interesting the same style can make the interesting areas a bit dry.
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