Able Seamen: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 1850-1939
Brian Lavery presents his second book describing the world of sailors and naval vessels, covering 1850-1939. He discusses the transition of sailing vessels from boats and ships of the most rudimentary style to steamships to iron and steel ships as well as the evolution of gunnery. Lavery spends a great deal of space describing how British sailors were first impressed, then legally acquired for set terms, and then later how enrollment and training developed to its present status. The numerous battles in which the Royal Navy engaged are cited and the major ones described in adventurous detail, including all of the victories and gaffes that occurred during those momentous times.
Social customs existing during time “out to sea” and “in port” are also fascinating reading; in particular, Lavery describes numerous mutinies, including causes and effects, all of which evolved into the 20th-century code of discipline, a mammoth change from the almost primitive state existing in the Royal Navy’s earliest days. Photographs and an appendix are added to enhance the story Lavery tells so well and which includes many other comprehensive aspects of this huge topic. This is a book for all interested in the military to enjoy, an accurate, fascinating book that would serve as an excellent, reliable source for researchers.