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Anson's Navy (Hardback)

Building a Fleet for Empire 1744–1763

Maritime Seaforth: General Seaforth Naval Photographic Books Colour Books

By Brian Lavery
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 125 b/w & colour illustrations and maps
ISBN: 9781399002882
Published: 16th November 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Despite a supreme belief in itself, the Royal Navy of the early eighteenth century was becoming over-confident and outdated, and it had more than its share of disasters and miscarriages including the devastating sickness in Admiral Hosier’s fleet in 1727; failure at Cartagena, and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.

"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.

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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.

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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.

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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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