Bookpick: Seven Selections for Santa’s Sack
I’m a bit of a bah humbug creature when it comes to the commercialisation of Christmas – but there’s one thing that I fervently believe: a book is a present that, if well chosen for the recipient, will give hours of pleasure and be a lasting reminder in itself of someone putting thought, not just money, into a Yuletide gift. So do consider adding some of these fine books – all with a maritime theme – to your gift-buying list. Hopefully, there’s something for everyone in this somewhat eclectic selection.
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The Two Battles of Copenhagen by Gareth Powers
The Danish capital of Copenhagen was the site of two major battles during the Napoleonic Wars – the first Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, one of Nelson’s great victories – and the second, the British army’s assault on the city in 1807 (which I feature in Inferno). Interestingly, Powers describes these two major events from both the British and Danish perspectives, showing well how they fitted into the politics of this region during this turbulent phase of European history.
The History of Navigation by Dag Pike
The author first went to sea aged 16 on tramp ships and experienced his first shipwreck two years later. Thereafter he had a long and varied marine career and is a regular contributor to maritime magazines worldwide. Charting both successes and failures, this is a fascinating account of mankind’s quest to explore his world from the earliest time, five millennia ago, to the present day.
Raiders From the Sea by John Lodwick
The Special Boat Service was a small force during World War II, never more than about 300 men. Strong, determined individuals, together the men of this elite commando unit formed a deadly, cohesive fighting force which contributed much to the war in the Mediterranean. This reprint edition is a vivid account of one man’s experiences of war – and a fitting tribute to the colleagues he fought alongside in the SBS.
A Marine Artist’s Portfolio by Susanne Fournaise Grube
The author, a Dane by birth, has long held a love and fascination for the sea. She paints in Acrylics, not only ships and small craft, but also the architecture of marine buildings and light houses. This volume gathers together a varied selection of her work, presented in six sections – liberty ships; tug boats, ferries & pilots; ocean liners; super tankers; lighthouses; and wooden boats & yachts. A visual delight.
The Trafalgar Chronicle by Peter Hore
The Trafalgar Chronicle has established itself as a prime source of information about the Georgian navy. This year’s edition spotlights women at sea and reveals many fascinating stories in another absorbing journal from the 1805 Club. A selection of well-chosen colour plates and black and white photographs, together with comprehensive notes on each of the contributor’s papers, enhance the value to the reader. An important contribution to scholarship of the period – and a damn good read!
World Naval Review 2019 Edited by Conrad Waters
Now in its tenth year, the Review is rightly recognised as an authoritative summary of global naval developments over the past 12 months. As well as regional surveys, important articles from various experts are offered, such as an assessment in this latest volume (which I found of particular interest) of modern naval communications by Norman Friedman. Essential reading for anyone – enthusiast or professional – interested in contemporary maritime affairs.
Submarines of World War II by Erminio Bagnasco
Submarines came into their own, playing a significant strategic role in the war at sea in the years 1939-45, and this major reference book describes all the classes of vessel that were deployed by the eighteen combatant nations during those years. First published in English in 1977, this classic work has been redesigned and updated to include more of the author’s superb collection of photographs. Sadly out of print for a number of years, this new edition will appeal to a wide new audience.
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
Just thought I would put pen to paper as it were and tell you what I think of the Kidd series of books, not that I expect you will read this but here goes anyway:
I am getting towards 77 now, many years ago I started reading Alexander Kent (Douglas Reeman really I believe) books on Richard Bolitho from Midshipman to Heart of Oak. All very good books, however, in his later books I had worked out pretty well the outcome well before the end, they were becoming predictable. I also read all the Hornblower books too with much the same outcome
Not so your Kydd books, always a twist of the unexpected.
I was sailing from my home Port of Portishead to the Isle of Man a few years ago, being weather bound in Holyhead I discovered “Command” and could not put it down. I just had to start at book one “Kydd” On my return I did just that and have never looked back, all magnificent reads.
This is what I particularly like about them:-
1. As previously stated unexpected twists but all very plausible.
2. I like reading Naval history as well as general history. I like your research in matching actual happenings intertwining them cleverly into the Kydd books. (I also like the“Sharp” books by Bernard Cornwell, who also looks to historical accuracy)
3. Your Dramatis Personae is another brilliant idea. My memory, or at least the recall, not being so good these days I find myself looking up the characters to remind myself who they are.
When reading your books I do try to “live” the parts. It takes longer to read but that means longer pleasure!
4. I also find your maps/charts useful, again for the imaginary “living” the parts.
5. Being a bit of an old salt myself I am still learning so your “Glossary” is also useful.
My daughter, bless her, knowing how I love your books managed to get me a signed copy of “The IberianFlame” for my birthday.
I’m sure your publishers are aware of the printing error, though how one can make a mistake like confusing the Mediterranean for the Atlantic Ocean I’m not sure about! Maybe it will make the book more valuable in the future!
I look forward to your next book quite eagerly. Many thanks for giving many hours of pleasurable reading.
Robert – thank you for taking the time to make these comments. I will share them with my publisher. And I you continue to enjoy my Kydd tales! Best wishes, Julian
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I reviewed, as usual, the book proposed, however “The two battles of Copenhagen” are from Gareth Glover and not Gareth Powers.
Nevertheless I bought it and cannot wait starting reading it
Gérard from Paris, France