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Anson's Navy (ePub)

Building a Fleet for Empire 1744–1763

Colour eBooks Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing Photographic eBooks

By Brian Lavery
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 47.7 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 125 b/w & colour illustrations and maps
ISBN: 9781399002899
Published: 10th August 2021

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Despite a supreme belief in itself, the Royal Navy of the early eighteenth century was becoming over-confident and outdated, and it had more than its share of disasters and miscarriages including the devastating sickness in Admiral Hosier’s fleet in 1727; failure at Cartagena, and an embarrassing action off Toulon in 1744. Anson’s great circumnavigation, though presented as a triumph, was achieved at huge cost in ships and lives. And in 1756 Admiral Byng was shot after failure off Minorca.

In this new book, the bestselling author Brian Lavery shows how, through reforms and the determined focus of a number of personalities, that navy was transformed in the middle years of the eighteenth century. The tide had already begun to turn with victories off Cape Finisterre in 1747, and in 1759 the navy played a vital part in the ‘year of victories’ with triumphs at Lagos and Quiberon Bay; and it conducted amphibious operations as far afield as Cuba and the Philippines, and took Quebec. The author explains how it was fundamentally transformed from the amateurish, corrupt and complacent force of the previous decades. He describes how it acquired uniforms and a definite rank structure for officers; and developed new ship types such as the 74 and the frigate. It instigated a more efficient (if equally brutal) method of recruiting seamen, and boosted morale and motivation and a far more aggressive style of fighting. The coppering of ships’ hulls and the solving of the problems associated with longitude and scurvy, were also hugely significant steps.

Much of this transformation was due to the forceful if enigmatic personality of George, Lord Anson. In a largely static society, he changed the navy so that it was fit for purpose, and in readiness for Nelson just decades later. Using a mass of archival evidence and a mix of official reports and personal reminiscences, this book offers a fascinating and engrossing analysis of all these far-reaching reforms, which in turn led to the radical transformation of Britain’s navy into a truly global force. The consequential effect on the world’s history would be huge.

"...the book quickly proves its worth as an addition to almost any shelf, particularly when paired with Lavery's two most similar titles Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men, and Organisation, 1793-1815, and Churchill's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation, 1939-1945. Those of a more scholarly inclination will doubtlessly appreciate the extensive bibliography, which encompasses multiple centuries of primary and secondary sources, as well as the general layout which allows for a smooth narrative flow. Those of a more casual enthusiast mindset likewise will appreciate that the book does not come to be bogged in the minutia but rather focuses on delivering an easy-to-understand level of information which can then be used to supplement additional research into the era of Anson."

Nautical Research Journal Volume 68 (2023)

"The book is generally well illustrated, with numerous contemporary paintings and engravings, often reproduced to pleasingly large size, and a jacket featuring a wonderful painting by Dominic Serres the Elder of men-of-war off a bucolic yet still recognisable Plymouth in 1766."

Warship Annual - 2023

Anson’s Navy captures the contribution of an outstanding individual to the emergence of a dynamic, dominant fighting force, one that reflected his character, experience and aims. Perhaps the key to understanding Anson can be found in his works.

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

An excellent book. Overall, Lavery achieves his purpose of synthesizing the wide range of naval history in Anson's lifetime well, and thus, the books is a great introduction to the period. The audience of the book could as easily be the beginner in the early modern naval history or an expert who want to explore various aspects of the contemporary navy outside their professions, which is an impressive achievement in itself.

The Mariner's Mirror

Lavery is one of Great Britain's most prominent naval historians, having published over thirty books on British naval history from the age of sail to the modern day.

Scholars will appreciate the extensive bibliography encompassing several centuries of primary and secondary sources, while the book's easy readability will give the layperson a solid introduction to the period in question.

Through thirteen chapters, Lavery gives attention to a multitude of factors that have affected the development of the Royal Navy [...]. Lavery skillfully weaves these factors into a coherent and digestible whole; the reader need not fear being bogged down by minutiae.

Lavery's work compellingly illustrates how the Royal Navy under Anson's leadership took the first critical steps needed to face a resurgent France at the turn of the nineteenth century and to ensure that Britannia would continue to rule the waves.

Reviewer: Michael Romero

U.S. Naval War College Review, Spring 2022

As featured on Naval Review

Naval Review

"Using archival sources including personal reminiscences (one of them by the black slave Olaudah Equiano), Lavery skillfully guides the reader through his analysis of the far-reaching reforms transforming the Royal Navy into a global force which would have an effect on world history.
It is hard to imagine why it has taken so long for this book to appear, but every member of The 1805 Club will feel the need to have this volume on their bookshelf: a magnificent tour de force from a deservedly best-selling author which will appeal to the expert as much as to the enthusiast."

The Kedge Anchor, Magazine of The 1805 Club, Spring 2022

"It is hard to imagine why it has taken so long for this book to appear, but every member of The 1805 Club will feel the need to have this volume on their bookshelf; a magnificent tour de force from a deservedly best-selling author which will appeal to the expert as much as to the enthusiast."

1805 Club's Kedge Anchor magazine - Spring 2022

"This excellent volume provides a comprehensive examination of 18th century warships and the Royal Navy."

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

Throughout the author has indicated end notes by numerical values which are explained at the end by a listing of the Notes involved. This together with the Bibliography and Index all combine to provide a very interesting and informative book together with the reproductions of paintings, drawings and sketches throughout.

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

This book presents the navy’s need for changes and the positive improvements that were made in thirteen chapters. These cover all aspects of naval service and administration. Each chapter focuses on different areas of concern, such as the ships, officers, crews, and shipboard life. Other chapters discuss the fleets, strategy and tactics, amphibious warfare and more.

Read the full review here

Pirates and Privateers

This is an excellent read, focusing on the nature of the Navy that won the key victories of the Seven Years War, and all aspects of life in that Navy.

Read the full review here

History of War

Using a mass of archival evidence and a mix of official reports and personal reminiscences, this book offers a fascinating and engrossing analysis of all these far-reaching reforms, which in turn led to the radical transformation of Britain's navy into a truly global force.

Society for Nautical Research

About Brian Lavery

BRIAN LAVERY is the bestselling author of more than thirty books on maritime history including the highly successful Nelson’s Navy and Empire of the Seas. He was for many years senior curator at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and he served on the advisory committee that dealt with the most famous preserved ship in the world, HMS Victory. His recent title, Anson's Navy, has just been published by Seaforth.

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