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The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649­-1815
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The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649­-1815 (A Naval History of Britain #2)

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The Command of the Ocean describes with unprecedented authority and scholarship the rise of Britain to naval greatness, and the central place of the Navy and naval activity in the life of the nation and government. Based on the author's own research in a dozen languages over more than a decade, it describes not just battles, voyages, and cruises but also how the Navy was m ...more
Paperback, 976 pages
Published May 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Bas Kreuger
A hefty book, but very, very readable for a serious work on the history of the British Navy. Most chapters on operational history of the navy are well known (Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars), but even they offer fresh insights in the way naval battles were fought tactical, operational and strategical.
For me the chapters on political infighting in the administration were not so interesting, but those on the social and technical development of sea officers, t
...more
Marc
Aug 13, 2008 Marc rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who like good history
This book is a history of the British Navy from Cromwell to the war of 1812. It's focus is institutional and social. Each time period is told from three viewpoints: first operations, what happened, then administration, how the navy ran itself, and finally social perspectives of the period for example, the social classes of the officers. It is excellent. Read the appendixes, the chronology and the glossary if you want some grounding.
Windsor
Although this book is a first rate history of everything from operations to equipping to shipbuilding to officer corps to social history, I do have to say it took a while to get into the book due to the authors assumption of the readers knowledge of English history. Not a book you buy at Barnes and noble for an everyday reader in my opinion. Loved his thesis and ideas, however.
Matthew Basil
Highly recommended, not just for its military, but also for its social and administrative, history.
Frogqueen
Very readable and well thought out study, looking not just at who turned what ship into the wind, but all the social, technical and administrative forces that shaped events and their outcomes - and how those outcomes did or did not change the navy in turn. There are colorful characters and genuinely exciting discussions of accounting methods. There are technological improvements and byzantine politics. There are cogent arguments and vital battles. It all comes together to make a remarkable book.
David Bird
I wonder how many readers come to this expecting Jack Aubrey; surely WW Norton relied upon that demographic.

Yet the thesis really is that the victories of Aubrey's nonfiction counterparts were achieved not only though gallantry, but through infrastructure; that the difference between the successful heroes of the Royal Navy and the glorious failures of its foes lay in competent administration and effective matching of resources to strategy.

The chapters on operations run through the expected bat
...more
Mythras
A measured and considered description of the development of British naval supremacy, giving as much weight to political and strategic dimensions as to the social and personal aspects of individual people themselves. A good deal of technical information, but tempered with highly credible depictions of what life was really like for those involved, regardless of their rank and station. For me, NAM Rodger is the CMJ of naval history. Undemonstrative, understated, balanced and impartial; yet still co ...more
Shonda Wilson
This was one of the most interesting, extensive, and comprehensive looks at naval operations I have had the pleasure of reading. Rodger covers major events, but also delves into the background of a Navy's success or failure. His breakdown into operations, social history, administration, and major events offers an overview of important battles and influences on navies while also providing a clear understanding of the entire scope of how politics, technology, and social issues transformed the Brit ...more
Norman
A very interesting history of the Royal Navy.
More than just a history of the Navy, but this book gives a good insight into the politics of the period covered and the wars and disputes involving Britain, the various European powers and the United States. It also gives a good insight into the personalities and capabilities of the various Sovereigns, Politicians and Naval Officers as well as some of the ships.
Ryan
Jul 26, 2007 Ryan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Naval History Buffs
Very detailed, meticulously researched and occasionally quite dry, this book covers the territory it sets out to a bit too well. The strategy sections are very lively and interesting, but they are interspersed with long discussions of administrative reforms and the like which add little to the overall narrative.
Nathan
A fairly comprehensive history of the Royal Navy's glory period (1650-1815). Massive detail in some sections (ask about the various secretaries of the Admiralty) but lacking in some others (day -to-day life on ship, for instance). Still, a worthy read. Rated G. 3/5
Lee
This was a good review of this time period, but what really blew me away was the section on the Revolutionary-Napoleonic Wars, and the differences in ship-based technology of those combatant navies.
Tony L
I did not know a lot about the sailing ship era in war, it read well, found it interesting and wanting to read more,
imngrer
I should find this book more useful than I actually do.
Clive Norris
Oct 05, 2009 Clive Norris is currently reading it
just started!
Leigh
Nice synthesis of Britain's maritime development -- strategy and fleet-wise.
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Professor Nicholas Andrew Martin Rodger FBA is a historian of the British navy and Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
More about N.A.M. Rodger...
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