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"AoS Captains better than Fiction?" Topic

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Ferreo Cuore Inactive Member05 Jun 2018 6:58 p.m. PST

Someone made interesting comment at BGG, that there were real naval heroes of greater interesting than Hornblower et al, so why read fiction when you could read history?

Who are the great naval captains of the Age of Sail, and,

Who has written the book that does it justice?

And they don't need to be British, how about Suffren, the Dutch, the Spanish?

Interestingly, I haven't read bios of the real ones, but know Hornblower's story quite well!

Charlie 12 Inactive Member05 Jun 2018 7:11 p.m. PST

For the frigate captains of the Napoleonic period, 'The Sea Warriors' by Woodman is one of the best.


Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jun 2018 8:07 p.m. PST

I second the "Sea Warriors" it is very good.

Broadsides is also an excellent book on the subject.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2018 6:29 a.m. PST

Admiral Thunderbolt is a good book in English about Peter "Tordenskjold" Wessel, a Danish naval hero of the early 18th C.

It's very difficult to find histories in English about non-Anglo sea captains, so I'm still looking for good books on a lot of them.

- Ix

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2018 10:44 a.m. PST

I haven't read any books about Anson, Cochrane or Pellew yet, but I know books about each exist, and they all had stellar careers. Admiral Anson's 1740-1744 circumnavigation of destruction is a really interesting read.

I am still looking for good books on Blas de Lezo (Spaniard), Jean Bart (French), Robert Surcouf (French), Michel de Ruyter (Dutch), Maarten Tromp (Dutch), and Piet Hein (Dutch), all rightfully famous and revered or feared in their times, but I don't read any of their languages, and haven't found good resources in English.

- Ix

Mr Astrolabe06 Jun 2018 11:49 a.m. PST

Just bought Sea Warriors after reading this. Also on the factual side try Frigates, Sloops & Brigs by James Henderson. Lots of info on single ship actions with unrated vessels as well as frigates.
I'd also recommend Woodman's fictional books (Nathaniel Drinkwater series), partic. on the earlier books he goes through a good range of vessels on interesting missions (bomb vessel at Copenhagen & whaler protection duties, where I learnt quite a lot about whaling).

4DJones06 Jun 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

Just dip into William James, they (the British) are all there.

Ferreo Cuore Inactive Member07 Jun 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

@ Pictors
I assume you mean "Broadsides" by Nathan Miller?

Admiral Thunderbolt sounds very good, and I know nothing about Danish naval history:

"A tale of a young and restless man who carried a confidence bordering on arrogance. Seeking adventure and to prove his worth as a man, he sets out in the world beyond his fathers influence to become one of the most celebrated war heroes in Scandinavias history. The story is well written and easy to read, thoug at times a bit heavily focussed on details with regards to the sailing techniques and tactics deployed. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and recommend it to the readers looking both for a look into the Northern European life and history of the early 1700's as well as a moral and courageous tale."

The excess focus on sailing techniques and tactics is probably a plus for us!

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP07 Jun 2018 9:58 a.m. PST

The excess focus on sailing techniques and tactics is probably a plus for us!
What does "excess focus" mean?

- Ix

Pyrate Captain07 Jun 2018 10:42 a.m. PST

I read Forester, O'Brian, Woodman, etc., because I like the characters and quite often, the non-combat situations are better than the combat. For instance, O'Brian frequently explained naval action in the form of Aubrey's dispatches to the admiral, and often enough he detailed the battle.

History is always interesting but fiction has its place. For me, the author is every bit as fascinating as the character, and in the case of Ian Fleming even more so.

Ferreo Cuore Inactive Member08 Jun 2018 7:11 p.m. PST

@4D Jones
"…William James, they (the British) are all there"

No luck with the name…too common. Anyone have more info?

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 11:04 p.m. PST

I think he meant the William James who wrote the Naval History of Great Britain, and a few other works.

Look around the web, you can find a lot of it in electronic form for free. I have all 6 volumes in PDF and 5 in epub.

- Ix

Ferreo Cuore Inactive Member10 Jun 2018 6:57 a.m. PST

@YA, well, here is one about Pellew, and it sounds great.

Commander : the life and exploits of Britain's greatest frigate captain / Stephen Taylor.

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