Broadsides: The Age of Fighting Sail, 1775-1815

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Wiley, Jun 19, 2000 - History - 388 pages
Few eras hold greater fascination for us than the Age of Fighting Sail, the forty-year period from 1775 to 1815. And few writers are as well qualified to bring this adventure-packed period to life as the critically acclaimed naval historian and biographer Nathan Miller. Now, in the first modern chronicle of the epic of wooden ships and pigtailed sailors, Miller provides essential reading for devotees of the popular nautical novels of Patrick O?Brian, C. S. Forester, Alexander Kent, and others. Broadsides covers the naval side of the American Revolution, the twenty-two year struggle between Britain?s hard-pressed Royal Navy and France that began in 1793, the foundation of the U.S. Navy and America?s forgotten undeclared naval war with France along with their struggle against the Barbary pirates, and closes with the War of 1812. One man, the legendary Horatio Nelson, epitomizes this era, and his personal story is the keel of this book, although the tale continues for another decade following Nelson?s tragic death at Trafalgar at the height of victory. Written with a bold sense of adventure and teeming with detail, Broadsides not only clearly reconstructs the naval battles of the era, but integrates them with the political and social forces that shaped our world. In addition to Nelson, its pages are graced by such fighting sailors as John Paul Jones, George Rodney, John Jervis, Thomas Truxtun, Edward Preble, Stephen Decatur, Edward Pellew (mentor of the fictional Horatio Hornblower), and the fiery Lord Cochrane (whose adventures provided a model for those of a young Jack Aubrey). Nor are the administrators slighted: Receiving their due are Benjamin Stoddert, the first U.S. Secretary of the Navy; Lord Barham, who directed the fleets that hemmed in Napoleon; and William Pitt, the architect of Britain?s victory over the French emperor. Broadsides also provides a richly textured look at the lives of the men and ??in an astonishing number of cases??the women who served in the swift-sailing frigates and mighty ships of the line. We learn how they were recruited, how they lived at sea, what they ate, and what they wore. For the first time in such a work, there is a discussion of homosexuality at sea and the savage punishments meted out for it. Here, too, is a clearly written account of how wooden fighting ships were built and sailed and how their guns were fired in battle. Miller also offers his readers the unique opportunity to learn the naval terms, tactics, and techniques integral to the period. Based on exhaustive research drawn from log books, official reports, letters, and memoirs, Miller presents an irresistible, brilliant exploration of the Age of Fighting Sail. The result is a gripping adventure in which the steadfastness of those serving at sea in that long-ago era have much to teach us in the modern age.

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User Review  - ShaneTierney - LibraryThing

Worthwhile overview. Can't rave about it; didn't hate it. A little more depth on the French and Spanish navies was in order. Owe to this book the discovery of Thomas Cochrane--may have subconsciously factored an extra half star just for that. Read full review

BROADSIDES: The Age of Fighting Sail, 1775-1815

User Review  - Kirkus

Until now, there has been no general history of the classic age of naval warfare—the 40 or so years between the American Revolution and the fall of Napoleon. Miller (Star-Spangled Men, 1997, etc ... Read full review


Chapter 2
Revolution Becomes World War
Sea FightsClassic Style

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About the author (2000)

NATHAN MILLER is the author of thirteen books, including the critically acclaimed Theodore Roosevelt: A Life and War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II. He has been named five times forthe Pulitzer Prize in history and biography, and his books have been assigned reading at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U. S. Naval War College, and the Naval Post-Graduate School. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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