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"Admiral Satan - Roderick Cavaliero" Topic

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09 Dec 2020 5:27 a.m. PST
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carojon09 Dec 2020 1:10 a.m. PST

Now out of print, I recently reread my 1994 copy of 'Admiral Satan – The Life and Campaigns of Suffren' by Roderick Cavaliero and have posted my thoughts about this great book.


If you are interested in the exploits of perhaps the greatest French admiral of the age of sail and the fascinating and bloodily fought campaign he led in the Indian Ocean 1782-83 against the British Confederacies of Madras and Bombay defended by the squadron of Sir Edward Hughes, then this book would be definitely worth getting hold of.

If you would like to know more then just follow the link to JJ's



Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Dec 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

OOP perhaps, but not unavailable: link

However, the prices being asked for this work are so high-to-astronomical that it seems some publisher is missing a bet by not reprinting it!


Marulaz109 Dec 2020 6:49 p.m. PST

I remember getting it at the library and enjoying it. Not too much out there in the English language on French naval officers in the age of sail that I am aware of, then or now.

Thanks carojon, I always enjoy reading your posts.


carojon09 Dec 2020 11:53 p.m. PST

Thanks for your comments chaps.

Yes a reprint or indeed a new tome in English is very much overdue, but I was surprised how well Cavaliero's book has stood the test of time in terms of still being an engrossing and well constructed read, if consisting of some unusual prose that had me thumbing my dictionary and adding to my personal lexicon at times.

I was also struck in this reread about how well Sir Edward Hughes comes across in the account dealing with some very difficult issues particularly with the Governor of Madras and certain army commanders and getting them to better understand the importance of his squadron being a force in being as well as seeking to destroy that of the enemy.

I don't think there can be any gripes about the price of this book as it is simply a case of the laws of supply and demand taking effect, so on the premise that a reprint or a similar tome seems far off, this book is an easy one to recommend for an enthusiast of the period and in between this second full reread I have often found myself dipping into it for reference.

Thank you John, your appreciation is much appreciated.


Blutarski10 Dec 2020 7:09 a.m. PST

Hi JJ,
I echo both your high opinion of "Admiral Satan" and your comments re the apparent lack of good English language references on the French (and Spanish) navies and personalities of the era. Along that vein, here are a couple of books I have run across that might perhaps be of interest -

"Admiral de Grasse American Independence", by Charles Lee Lewis.

"The Naval Campaigns of Count de Grasse 1781-1783", by Karl Gustaf Tornquist

This book is especially interesting in that it quotes contemporary commentary from various Swedish officers who had served in the French navy under de Grasse.

- -

Re Cavaliero, a check on Amazon Books suggests that he writes on a very wide range of historical topics indeed! The fact that his foray into naval history appears to have been a "one-off", my respect for the quality of his work has only increased.


carojon11 Dec 2020 7:18 a.m. PST

Hi Blutarski,
Thanks for your comment and the heads up on those other titles which are on my to read list.

That's interesting about Cavliero and I agree that as a one off it is most impressive.


Blutarski12 Dec 2020 12:19 p.m. PST

Speaking of Suffren and Hughes, have you ever played out the Battle of Sadras? A very interesting scenario with lots of ticklish details for both commanders.

Suffren outnumbers Hughes 12 to 9, but 5 of his ships are from the recently deceased d'Orves's Isle de France command and are slow, slovenly and some commanded by captains not terribly excited about fighting at close quarter.

Hughes is cut off from Madras, but tactically sits between Suffren's squadron of warships and his French convoy. However, three of Hughes's ship just arrived from Britain with heavy losses from scurvy and have had to make up their numbers by taking untrained landsmen aboard.

Suffren had Hughes cut off from his main base at Madras, while Suffren himself had no safe harbor closer than Ile de France, so I set the victory conditions based upon accumulated penalty points for hull damage, crew casualties, lower mast loss or damage, ships lost or captured, commanders killed or captured i.e. important things that could not be made good the night after the battle. The first side whose penalty points reached a stipulated pain threshold was obliged to break off the action … with the umpire making judgments about the chances of a crippled ship (or prize) making a successful get away.

Was lots of fun.



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