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History Happy Hour

Episode 106: The Sailor's Bookshelf

*Since Admiral Starvidas’ book is a wonderful bibliography of books about the sea it would be difficult to recommend other bibliographies of the sea. Instead, I’ve listed some of my favorite naval books.  

Aubrey/ Maturin Novels by Patrick O’Brian. Starting with Master and Commander, the 20 books of O’Brian’s series follow the ups and downs of fictional Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and his “particular friend,” Doctor Stephen Maturin during the Napoleonic Wars. O’Brian’s books are masterpieces of historical fiction and give one of the most entertaining-and historically accurate-pictures of the Royal Navy at the height of its power that I have ever read. This series would be at the top of the box if I could only take a few necessities with me to a desert island.  

World War II at Sea, Craig Symonds The most accessible-and thorough-history of World War 2 at sea that I have ever read. I would recommend ANY of Symonds’ books, not only because he has been a guest on HHH a few times, but because they are all outstanding. If I could only read one book about World War 2 at sea, this would be it.  

The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Times of Horatio Nelson, Robert Knight Admittedly I’m showing my British bias a bit, but I’d argue that Horatio Nelson is one of the most significant naval commanders in history and this biography of Nelson-and his world-I think is one of the best. Explores the ingredients that make a successful commander at sea.   Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, James Hornfischer I admit that I frequently find books about naval battles in World War 2 a bit remote and technical. Too much machinery and not enough about the men. Last Stand is absolutely the opposite of this generalization. Magnificent account of men in battle. Up close, personal and un put downable.

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