ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815 - Surely this has been done before?

Updated on April 21, 2019

It is a book with what appears as an exciting title, "The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies 1650-1815", at least for myself, since I find naval affairs of the era to be quite fascinating. having read some thoroughly excellent papers upon the nature of the French navy during the period as well as some highly detailed and good, if perhaps outdated works, dealing with the British navy, I had anticipated something of a similar caliber with this work by Jonathan R. Dull. Unfortunately, appearances would prove to be deceiving....

For Dull's book is about the french and British navies, over this wide spanning course of history, but approaches the matter with a great generalism, focusing on just the broad strategic elements between the two nations, complimented by a few poor maps that serve to provide for the exposition of a few tactical battles. There is very little which serves to illustrate the broader nature of the navies, such as their building, the organization is covered only minimally, the training, how the ships were designed, limited amounts about how the ships fought, about naval strategies and naval thought, social dynamics, internal debates and conflict within the navy, etc.

Instead the book is devoted to covering the wars between France and Britain, and generally with nothing at all about the activities of the navies between the wars, and during the wars only covering the major fleet actions and certain events - and even there in rather scarce detail. To be sure, it does have to be mentioned that this was of course, the principal objectives of the navy - but it is such a limited and narrow subject that writing a book so recently just as a general overview of it seems absurd. Ultimately, when one is purchasing this book, one is not purchasing a book about the ship of the line, nor about even the British and French navies - one is just purchasing a general overview of their combat in their wars, with some limited additional background material. Listing the numbers of sailors available and the number of ships available is somewhat useful, but for a book upon such a well trod field of historical research, I would expect far more, such as much more ambitious usage of tables and significant usage of statistics. Instead it is flat, unambitious, and narrow. Furthermore, if it was aiming to popularize such a topic, it should include more things such as pictures and depictions - instead it is rather dry and boring, its main redeeming feature being that it is so short.

The author I believe, would have been much better served if he had attempted to transform this book into an understanding of the respective policies and financial efforts available to both France and Britain in this era, for this is where his real interest begins to shine through, with the limitations imposed upon the navies by the respective two sides' economies. Perhaps married with a diplomatic perspective, where he is very interested and looks fondly upon the days of the Franco-British alliance in the early part of the 18th century, and makes note of the mutual interest of France and Britain in responding to third party, upstart states, like Russia, that threatened to undermine a system where they were broadly, after the death of Louis XIV at least, happy with the existing order. Trying to paint this as a naval history is unconvincing.

In the end, The Age of the Ship of the Line makes for a decent overall summary of the wars between Britain and France, concentrated of course on a naval domain. But this is a subject which has been, I am quite sure, done to death, and to repeat it again is just to beat a dead horse. The only real advantage this book has is that it is short, simple, and can serve as a decent overall reference book. Compared to the disadvantages, mainly that the broad outlines of the information are already known, that the book is a decent summary does little to help it. If one does want something that is a short, and largely superficial introduction to the British and French navies in the period, which does at least enmesh them into the broader strategic picture, especially the monetary and diplomatic one, of the respective sides, then this book is suitable - but it is so lacking in depth and limited that for anybody beyond just those who want an initial look at this period of history, it is a grave disappointment.

2 stars for The Age of the Ship of the Line

© 2019 Ryan Thomas

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      24 months ago from UK

      This is a thoughtful review, written based on your background knowledge about the subject of the book.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)