BookPick: Summer Selection
This selection covers a broad range of topics including the real story behind the loss of HMS Gloucester during World War II, the influence of the Royal Navy on the West Coast of America 1812-1914 – and leadership at sea in the Merchant Marine. Whether it’s an addition to your library or just a good holiday read, I hope there’s something for everyone in this eclectic mix.
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Golden Stripes by Captain by V S Parani
Although merchant ships carry 90% of the world’s trade, the mariners who sail these mega-million dollar vessels often have little guidance on leadership. Parani weaves together his rich maritime and management experience, cutting-edge insights and case studies in this book to offer a practical leadership action plan which can be applied at sea, or indeed in many other workplaces. A succinct and compact guide that will be compulsory reading for mariners worldwide.
Beyond the Harbour Lights by Chris Mills
Another book with real-life stories of the Merchant Marine. Based on contemporary newspaper articles, mainly from the 1920s and 1930s, it weaves in background information from other sources such as marine courts of inquiry and ships’ logs, and the author has compiled – with a few imaginative added details – a very readable little tome of voyages full of drama and unexpected incidents.
Britannia’s Navy by Barry Gough
The influence of the Royal Navy on the development of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest was remarkably extensive. Yet its impact has been largely ignored by historians, who instead focus on the influence of explorers, fur traders, settlers and railway builders. In this revised and expanded edition of his classic 1972 work, naval historian Gough examines the contest for the west coast of North America between 1812 and 1914, shedding new light on geopolitical forces past and present.
HMS Gloucester by Ken Otter
On 22 May 1941, the cruiser HMS Gloucester was sunk by aircraft of the Luftwaffe. Of her crew of 810 men, only 83 lived. Clinging to rafts and flotsam, the survivors hung on for almost 24 hours before finally being rescued by German boats searching for their own men who had been victims of a previous British attack. The fact that Allied destroyers were in the proximity but were recalled from the rescue mission poses a serious question that needs answering. The resulting tragic story of one of the Royal Navy’s greatest disasters during the Second World War makes compelling reading.
A Social History of British Naval Officers 1775-1815 by Evan Wilson
The first serious study of commissioned officers’ lives and careers was Michael Lewis, ‘A Social History of the Navy 1793-1815‘, a book which I used in my research for the Kydd tales. This title further explores the world of British naval officers at the height of the Royal Navy’s power in the age of sail. It describes the full spectrum of officers, from commissioned officers of differing origins to the unheralded but those essential members of every ship’s company, the warrant officers. As with other books from Boydell Press it has extensive appendices and a comprehensive bibliography. A valuable contribution to maritime scholarship.
The Social History of English Seamen 1650-1815 by Cheryl A Fury
Over the past few decades, social historians have begun to examine the less well-known seafarers who were on dangerous voyages of commerce, exploration, privateering and piracy, as well as the usual naval campaigns. This book, together with its companion volume, The Social History of English Seamen 1485-1649, highlights important contemporary research that is throwing such a compelling light on the field. Subjects covered include trade, piracy, wives, widows and the wider maritime community, health and medicine at sea, religion and shipboard culture – a truly illuminating and satisfying work on the experience of Jack Tar over the centuries.
River Ouse Bargeman by David Lewis
The Ouse reaches into the heart of Yorkshire from the Humber Estuary. Until the 1980s, loaded barges made the challenging journey from Hull to Selby, bearing bulk cargoes for the mills of the town. The bargees had to be tough and resourceful and Laurie Dews of Selby is no exception. He worked the Ouse from 1937 to 1987, and is now the only man remaining with first-hand experience of life on the Yorkshire Ouse as a bargeman. Author David Lewis, in conjunction with Dews, presents this lost way of life in a fascinating tribute which is warmly and touchingly presented.
Still looking for bookish inspiration?
You might also like to take a peek at my other BookPicks this year this year
And I have a very limited number of Signed First Editions, which I’m happy to inscribe with a personal message
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Hello Commander. I just wanted to tell you that I have read your Kydd series, and very much enjoyed them! Look forward to a new adventure. Because I am one of those that find it hard to put down a good book so I rapidly caught up with you! In the interim, I read the Lord Ramage series by Dudley Pope. I am sure you would agree, the man had a fabulous grasp on knowledge of Royal Navy during the Lord Nelson period. Problem I had was it was a sad moment when I finished the 18th book in the series. So I have sense started reading the Kydd series again starting with number 1. As I enjoy your knowledge of that period of the British Navy as well as Mr. Pope’s could you recommend ant series that have the same period and style? I did spend time in the U.S. Navy and left as a 3rd Class Petty Officer, and am a big fan of History. Sincerely, Howard Todd.
Hello, Todd. Delighted you’re enjoying my Kydd tales and are re-reading them again! You might also enjoy the work of C S Forester and Patrick O’Brian, who write about the 1793-1815 period, too.