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Coastal Defences of the British Empire in the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras (Hardback)

Napoleonic Maritime Naval Photographic Books Colour Books Military 18th Century 19th Century

By Daniel MacCannell
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 70 colour
ISBN: 9781526753458
Published: 26th April 2021

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Far more than an architecture book, Coastal Defences of the British Empire in the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras is a sweeping reinterpretation of the Martello towers, Grand Redoubts, Royal Military Canal and other new defence infrastructure.

Lavishly illustrated with period maps, views, portraits, cartoons and newly commissioned colour photographs, it includes not only these structures’ forerunners, and plans that were never executed, but also the grand strategy that informed them. At its best, this saw Britain’s position as a vast land battle, with the deadly threat of the French-held Antwerp navy yards on its own ‘left wing’, and Lisbon as the enemy’s ‘weak left’ to be ‘turned’.

The book also takes in the astonishingly inventive, bold and bloody small-boat wars that raged from the Baltic and Channel coast to Chesapeake Bay and Lake Ontario, and provides vivid pen-sketches of the now-obscure and sometimes deeply flawed strategic visionaries, engineers, inventors, and fighting men who held the line as – even after Trafalgar – the forces of an ever more powerful French empire circled like sharks.

Along the way, it traces a fundamental change in the nature of war and society: from a ponderous game of fortresses and colonies played by rulers, to murderous ‘foot by foot’ defence of the whole territory of the nation by ‘both sexes and every social type’.

This is a very well researched book about a fascinating historical phenomena, how Britain defended its coastlines both at home and abroad during the Napoleonic era. If you ever wondered about the line of south coast Martello towers along the English south coast, then this is the book for you.
It first takes the reader to look at the history of the towers, from considering the problems involving shore defences both at home and in the colonies, to the idea of the towers and through to their actual construction. The book also deals with the delicate state of peace in the colonies through to the urgent need for some form of their physical defence at a time when the Royal Navy was over stretched.
I found the explanation for the towers along the English South Coast to be the most interesting and this book answered many questions I had about the towers, answers which had previously eluded me.
A well written and most interesting book.

Dr Adrian Greaves, The Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society

About Daniel MacCannell

Daniel MacCannell UE FRGS is an Aberdeen University-trained historian and Army Cadet Force instructor at HMS Flying Fox in Bristol. He has written extensively about the histories of smuggling, cartography, news, royalism, and architecture, and in a former life was hired to pen a series of Pink Panther cartoons for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He is also a leading editor of advanced academic work written in English by speakers of Taiwan Mandarin. This is his ninth nonfiction book.

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