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. So do consider adding some of these fine books – all with a maritime or military link – to your present-buying list. Hopefully, there’s something for everyone in this somewhat eclectic selection. And for those looking for some fine maritime art prints there’s a special offer from Art Marine – see the end of this blog for details.
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Pepys’s Navy by J D Davies
This gorgeously illustrated book describes the English navy in the second half of the seventeenth century, from the time when the Fleet Royal was taken into Parliamentary control after the defeat of Charles I, until the accession of William and Mary in 1689. This crucial era witnessed the creation of a permanent naval service, in essence the birth of the Royal Navy. Davies’s coverage is comprehensive – naval administration, ship types & shipbuilding, naval recruitment & crews, seamanship & gunnery, shipboard life, dockyards & bases, the foreign navies of the period, and the three major wars which were fought against the Dutch in the Channel and the North Sea.
That Hamilton Woman by Barry Gough
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson fell in love with Emma Hamilton in the years before Trafalgar. This romance, together with his quest for glory and victory, made him the talk of the age. The author explores the evolving scandal, the high political stakes that were involved, and the love affair itself – which influenced not just their lives, but England’s destiny. Gough draws on the letters between the protagonists and in particular the findings of the historian of the Royal Navy Arthur Marder
Tracing Your Seafaring Ancestors by Simon Wills
Tracing one’s ancestors is certainly a pastime gaining in popularity. And it’s not just paper records that are helping us build up the family tree. Photographs of seafaring ancestors can tell a great deal about their lives, and Simon Wills’s helpful and practical guide shows how to identify evidence caught on camera and interpret the photographic clues to an individual’s career. Who knows – do you have a Jellicoe or salty able seaman in your family’s past?
Fighting for the News by Brian Best
When Kathy and I lived in Hong Kong in the 80s she was a member of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club where we met war correspondents from around the world. This book focuses on the adventures of the first War Correspondents, from Bonaparte to the Boers. It is some 200 years since a newspaper conceived the idea of sending a reporter overseas to observe, gather information and write about war – in 1807 The Times dispatched Henry Crabbe Robinson to Germany to follow and report on the movements of Napoleon’s Grande Armee. ‘Old Crabby’ was a gregarious bachelor with a gift for languages who could fit into any company. In many ways he was the archetypal foreign correspondent. Robinson was followed by William Russell in the Crimean War and perhaps most famously of all, Winston Churchill, who reported from many fronts.
The Lost Story of William and Mary by Gill Hoffs
The loss of the emigrant ship William & Mary made news around the world, not once, but twice in 1853. First, when her American captain reported the vessel lost in the shark-infested waters of the Bahamas and the death of over 200 left on board, then again when the truth emerged a tale of abandonment, desperation, and the incredible heroism of a wrecker and his crew. This book shines light on some of the people involved in this maritime disaster, including: Captain Timothy Stinson, the callous mariner who attempted mass murder; Susannah Dimond, the English 19-year-old hoping for a new life in St. Louis with her family; and Izaak Roorda, one of a group of 87 Dutch emigrants seeking to settle in Wisconsin, who found the lifeboat more perilous than the sinking ship.
Still looking for bookish inspiration? Here are my earlier BookPicks this year
And I have a very limited number of Signed First Editions, which I’m happy to inscribe with a personal message
Fine Limited Edition Maritime Prints Offer
Art Marine are offering a 10% discount on all Geoff Hunt prints, including the Kydd Collection – just enter JSXMAS at the checkout. The offer is valid between now and 15th December.
Still time for overseas orders to arrive in time for Christmas!
Finally, Kathy and I would like to extend our best wishes to you for the Festive Season!
The BigJules Blog will be back in the New Year.