Part 3: I’m a bit of a bah humbug man 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. Here are the final three books in my baker’s dozen suggestions for your present-buying list.
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The British Carrier Strike Fleet by David Hobbs
This author served in the Royal Navy for over 30 years and his Service time overlaps my own years in the navy, and much of what he has to say resonates strongly.
I’m proud of the fact that the Royal Navy invented many of the techniques and devices crucial to modern carrier operations. In 1945 the most powerful fleet in the Royal Navy’s history was centred on nine aircraft carriers. This book charts the post-war fortunes of this potent strike force, its decline in the face of diminishing resources, its final fall at the hands of uncomprehending politicians, and its recent resurrection in the form of the two Queen Elizabeth class carriers, which, when built, will be the largest ships ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
It’s a pretty meaty book – I for one was fascinated at the strategic depth behind carrier operations in which I served in the Far East and now revealed to me, for it’s an important but largely untold story, and certainly of renewed significance as Britain has committed to once again embracing carrier operations, albeit not for a few years yet…
The Seasick Admiral by Kevin Brown
Horatio Nelson did not possess particularly good health. During the entire time he was growing up he suffered from many of the ailments common in the eighteenth century. After he joined the Navy he went down with fevers that further undermined his strength: he was always seasick outward bound when the ship first put to sea. The Fighting Admiral saw more action than most officers, and often took injuries – the loss of the sight in one eye and an amputated arm were the most public, but by no means his only wounds.
This personal experience of illness made him uniquely aware of the importance of health and fitness to the efficient running of a fleet, and this new book investigates Nelson’s personal contribution to improving the welfare of the men he commanded, the deeply humanitarian side of a great warrior.
There is all of 16 pages of photographs and illustrations to complement the text.
Commemorating the Seafarer by Barbara Tomlinson
The author was Curator of Antiquities at Royal Museums Greenwich (part of which is the National Maritime Museum) for over thirty-five years. This book discusses memorials commemorating British seafarers, shipbuilders and victims of shipwreck from the sixteenth century to the present. Examples have been chosen mainly from Great Britain and Ireland with a few from wider afield. They include important works by major British artists as well as more modest productions by anonymous carvers.
What is particularly engaging about the book is the retelling of the dramatic stories behind the monuments, throwing into stark relief the significant social and cultural changes in Britain’s relationship to the sea.
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
Still time for overseas orders to arrive in time for Christmas! And I’m offering a 10% discount for purchases of two or more titles. (The discount will be refunded to your account after receipt of the payment.)
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