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Skilled in the Tactics of 1870

N.A.M. Rodger: So many ships and fleets and armies

27 January 2020
The War for the Seas: A Maritime History of World War Two 
by Evan Mawdsley.
Yale, 557 pp., £25, August 2019, 978 0 300 19019 9
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... There​ can scarcely be a subject about which more books have been written than the Second World War, and yet surprisingly few of them risk a synthesis of the whole. Many writers refer to the war in their titles, but their subjects are usually only a part of the whole: a campaign, a geographical area, a single country or, very often, a single armed service. Perhaps that isn’t so remarkable; after ...

Grieve not, but try again

N.A.M. Rodger: Submarines

21 September 2016
The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 
by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks.
Allen Lane, 823 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 84614 580 3
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... Warships​ are built for war, but not only for war. They have always had an eloquent symbolic value as expressions of power, wealth and resolve, as instruments of threat or reassurance. They speak this language in peacetime just as much as in war. But ‘language’ should really be in the plural. Different kinds of warship convey different meanings, in different languages, and the languages are not ...

Keep your eye on the tide, Jock

Tom Shippey: Naval history

4 June 1998
The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Vol. I, 660-1649 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HarperCollins, 691 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 00 255128 4
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Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe 
by Bert Hall.
Johns Hopkins, 300 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 8018 5531 4
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... high seas, and lay in the development of the Navy: everybody knows that, so let’s look back to see where it started. The danger is exacerbated even now by memories from school. Till I read N.A.M.Rodger’s book I could not have placed Richard Grenville and the Revenge within twenty years, nor had any idea what he was doing ‘at Flores in the Azores’; nor do I know even yet (for Rodger is ...

Powered by Fear

Linda Colley: Putting the navy in its place

3 February 2005
The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
Allen Lane, 907 pp., £30, September 2004, 0 7139 9411 8
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... surely all this sums up what the Royal Navy’s command of the oceans in the 18th and early 19th centuries was quintessentially about? The greatest achievement of the second volume of N.A.M.Rodger’s formidable trilogy devoted to British naval history is its determined questioning of any such assumptions. Trafalgar Square is a mid and late Victorian creation. The battle it celebrates took ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian

7 July 1988
The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... exact identification of the countless objects brought up, from old, old, very old socks to the gold, ruby-studded, winged salamander found in the Girona. Another book filled with knowledge is N.A.M.Rodger’s The Armada in the Public Records. After a brief rehearsal of the essentials and some fine pictures, we have facsimiles of 17 documents, mercifully transcribed by experts, which include Drake’s ...

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