The War for All the Oceans is epic narrative history, sure to appeal to fans of Patrick O'Brian and C. S. Forester, as well as all readers of military and social history.
©2007 Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Sumptuous storytelling." (Kirkus)
"Vivid....[A] rollicking saga." (Publishers Weekly)
The authors obviously did a great deal of research into the letters and writings of people who actually took part in making this history. Most of the material they quote is not from the elites but from common sailors, wives, prostitutes, prisoners of war, young officers, criminals, women aboard British warships, impressed Americans, smugglers, parole breakers, and otherwise unknown and disreputable participants. For me, this brought historical events into sharp focus.
No single memorable moment, rather it is the compilation of hundreds of individual moments, each as perfect as if captured in amber, that makes this history so compelling.
One of the best stories about the British navy in the Napoleonic era that highlights the sensibilities of the age involves the visit of the Queen to a battleship just newly arrived back in England. The sailors, being sailors, had brought aboard hundreds of prostitutes, which was a common practice in the British navy at the time. The Captain ordered that they be kept below decks while the Queen toured the ship. But, the Queen, being the Queen, looked down into a passageway and saw these women staring up at her as if she were from another planet. She immediately ordered that the women be allowed to come up on deck so they could see what was going on. Priceless!
A lot of comments here about the reader, most of them negative. Too bad. I enjoyed Lawlor's narration, his comic French accent and terrible Scottish accent as well. His interpretations of the voices of all these common people who witnessed this conflict added immeasurably to their humanity and their realness.
I enjoyed the The War for All the Oceans. There were a great deal of personal letters and diary entries that gave life to the battles and even everyday life of the soldiers and seamen.
As a reader of the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian, I certainly found several familiar sequences and battles.
The main drawback of the book is a bit of a tendency to skip from one story to the next and back again. To a degree it can be explained as an attempt to maintain chronology, but some anecdotes could have been completed with much less inter-splicing of material.
Overall, I found the book both entertaining and informative. I would certainly recommend it to anyone with a love for the old British Navy, or those who have an interest in the Napoleonic wars.
If any one thing detracts from the wealth of information in this classic on British naval warfare, it is Patrick Lawlor's amateurish narration. His ludicrously affected British, French, and Scottish accents, mispronunciations and sing-song prose recital should make the authors cringe.
Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
The book covers the Napoleonic Wars from the perspective of the naval battles. It argues that the British blockade of much of Europe was the real reason for the downfall of Napoleon. The blockade gradually put more and more pressure on Napoleon, gradually reducing his options, and inevitably pushing him to make mistakes, which eventually lead to his downfall.
I think that this perspective is perhaps the dominate part of the truth, but still only part of the truth. Still I think it’s an important point, and the author, probably, meant no more than this.
The only fault is that it’s not that gripping a book. The style is a collection of short stories, which seems a good choose for this subject. But the narrative quality of the short stories seemed highly variable. Some were captivating, many were not.
Maps would help!
I've read the book, and enjoyed it enough that I bought the narration to listen to at the office. It's a good read with a mixture of big picture and local action.
I hate to complain, but the fact is that the narrator's performance is absolutely horrible. He seems to be American, but the book is about the Napoleonic Wars and he insists on doing accents for everyone - British, French, Scottish, etc. Someone must have thought this would help "put the listener into the story". They are almost unbearably affected, and they are both frequent and long, given the book's many quotes from original source materials. Napoleon, for example, sounds like the worst stereotype you could imagine for a Frenchman. It's so below the quality of the book itself that I can't imagine how it was allowed to happen. It's literally cartoon-ish. I may not be able to finish this one.
As noted above - the accents are infuriating. No doubt the narrator had fun doing them all, but it's so ridiculous that I may not be able even to finish listening to a book that I loved reading.
Please re-issue this book with a new, non-childish narration!
I put off this book for months, due to the bad reviews of the narrator, which seemed to be corroborated by the sample from the first few paragraphs of the book. Eventually I decided to take a chance, and was glad I did.
The narrator gets into a decent rhythm, and his American accent is a useful contrast to the many other accents from French and British accounts of naval battles.
This book contained a lot of stories and historical detail that I was not previously aware of, despite having read several other histories of this period, including Napoleon's Wars by Charles Esdaile.
Overall, a satisfying story with a satisfying narrator.
If you are looking for good battle accounts and an in depth look at the actual fighting during the age of sail, this is not your book. The book is well researched but delves too deeply into how the navy functioned as an institution. First person accounts do tend to liven the story but end up becoming just plain annoying as they are all done with accents.
PLEASE do not have one narrator do all of the accents for each nationality. For that matter, do not do accents period. The narrator's accents are passable at first, but severely detract from the enjoyment of the book the deeper you get into it. It was a struggle to finish an otherwise good but not great book due to the narrator.
Not to attempt a foreign accent for several weeks afterwards!
Like action, adventures, war stories, militay happenings, historical readings-fiction, & mysteries. Unabridged only! Reader IMPORT!
Could NOT finish the book the narration was annoying just plain TERRIBLE!!!
How a producer could allow this to happen to a seemly good story is beyond me!
I love history. I expect history to give me a good balance of the "macro" picture (the overall historical arcs in the narrative) and the "micro" picture (how individuals are recorded as living through these arcs).
I found "The War" disappointing because it did not offer a good balance of the macro and micro pictures, spending an inordinate amount of time on the micro picture. There were too many quotes and not enough analysis.
More a compilation of primary sources and first-hand accounts than a standard history book, The War for All the Oceans reads like a novel and is a very enjoyable story.
Roy and Lesley Adkins tell the story of the Napoleonic Wars from the perspectives and experiences of the men who lived and died during the conflict. While the narrative follows primary historical figures--Napoleon, Nelson, Smith--the history comes alive through voices of the ordinary men who history so often overlooks.
A highly recommended read that is skillfully narrated by Patrick Lawlor (although I don't like his American voice), The War for All the Oceans is a refreshingly different sort of history.
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