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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)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  265 Ratings  ·  23 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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Bas Kreuger
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Ian Colby
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A great book and thorough work of research ruined by very poor writing choices.

If you're interested in this book (I'll be the first to admit, British Naval history is strictly for the geeky niche fans, like me), I recommend the following:

Skip the "Operations" chapters and just read a wikipedia page instead. I've been spoiled by Robert Caro, but there's absolutely no characterization, context, or care put into these sections. Every operations section makes the two critical mistakes of history wri
...more
Marc
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-history
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
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grad-school
Highly recommended, not just for its military, but also for its social and administrative, history.
Ian Bates
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
There isn't much that Nicholas Rodger and his team of researchers don't know about the Royal Navy.
Easy to read and full of in-depth research. By its very scope it has to skim over some areas we might like to see in more detail but it is a textbook of considerable importance in this heavily scrutinised period.
David Bird
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, maritime
I first read this naval history of Britain shortly after it was published. I knew it was good then, but rereading it now convinces me that it is a great work. Parliament, commerce, finance, the middle classes and the navy were the foundations of Britain's policy and success throughout the long eighteenth century. And it was the dourly fanatical military dictatorship of the Commonwealth and the wannabe autocracy of the Stuart's that forged the navy in wars against the Dutch. Parliament and the wh ...more
Frogqueen
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: voyages, history
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.
Shonda Wilson
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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Nicholas Andrew Martin Rodger, FBA, is a historian of the British Royal Navy and Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
More about Nicholas A.M. Rodger...

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A Naval History of Britain (3 books)
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  • The Price of Victory: A Naval History of Britain: 1815-2002