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Samuel Pepys: Memoires of the Royal Navy 1690 (Hardback)

Maritime Seaforth: General Seaforth Chatham: Naval Royal Navy

By Samuel Pepys, Introduction by J.D Davies
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781848320659
Published: 8th March 2010

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Although the diary is now Pepys's most famous work, it was unknown until long after his death. In fact, he only published one book in his lifetime - this account of the administration of the Navy from 1679 until his dismissal from office with the regime change in 1688.

As his friend Evelyn said of him, 'none in England exceeding him in knowledge of the navy', Pepys is able to provide a fascinating insider's view of the working of the Admiralty, replete with technical detail on shipbuilding and the operations of the dockyards. However, the wealth of fact and figures is misleading, and far from being impartial,

The new introduction by David Davies explains the political controversy which formed the background to the book's publication, and shows how Pepys manipulated his mastery of arcane information - indeed, he would have made an ideal spin-doctor to a modern government.

The original appendix is a detailed list of the state of the fleet in December 1688, which in this edition is illustrated with contemporary drawings of typical ships.

This attractively produced volume will be of considerable interest and value to students of naval history, though its authorship and political implications lend it wider appeal.

International Journal of Maritime History - March 2011

Although he died more than three hundred years ago, Samuel Pepys is still by far the world's best-known naval administrator. For that matter, he is almost certainly also the world's best known bureaucrat and political "spin doctor".

This fascinating little book was written after he lost his job in a massive change of government in 1688. It is unbelievably prescient. Any current senior defence bureaucrat or admiral who not studied it should be dismissed immediately.

No matter what your nationality, most things naval remain the same. Pepys was a cynical and brilliant writer. Dr Davies has done an excellent job of converting his wisdom to current idiom. A masterpiece!

Ausmarine - February 2011

The diary of Samuel Pepys, recounting the intimate details of his scandalous private life, is recognized as epitomizing
seventeenth century life in London. What is much less well known is that his famous diary was not published until over a century after his death. Memoires was the only book Pepys published in his lifetime. With a new introduction by J D Davies, a leading historian of the Restoration Navy, this pocket-sized, facsimile version of the original book provides an inventory of ships and an overview of the Royal Navy at the time. More significantly, it is also Pepys's personal vindication of his achievements while at the centre of naval administration in the ten years leading up to his dismissal in 1688 when William and Mary came to the throne. In the manner of today's leading politicians and disgruntled civil servants, who after leaving high office in Whitehall rush to publish their memoirs, Pepys's version of events is intentionally the one he wanted remembered, rather than it being a true record of what actually took place. Pepys was a 'political animal', a 'master of spin', long before such terms were in everyday use. Despite his many faults, when read together with Dr Davies's illuminating essay, and for those who prefer to use their own selective scalpel, rather than relying on someone else's swashbuckling cutlass, to separate fact from fiction in naval history, this is an intriguing and ingenious memoir.
Recommended reading for all serious students of the period.

Pennant, November 2010

About J.D Davies

DAVID DAVIES, formerly Deputy Headmaster of Bedford Modern School, is the country's leading historian of the navy of this period and the author of the critically-acclaimed Gentlemen and Tarpaulins.

Former Chairman of the Naval Dockyards Society. Chair, Research and Programmes Committee, the Society for Nautical Research. Chair, Media, Marketing and Membership Committee, the Navy Records Society

Shortlisted for the Mountbatten Literary Award for Britannia's Dragon: A Naval History of Wales. Winner of the Samuel Pepys Prize for Pepys's Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-89.

Samuel Pepys begins his diary

1st January 1690

Samuel Pepys was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament, who is now most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. Although Pepys had no maritime experience, he rose by patronage, hard work and his talent for administration, to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and subsequently King James II.


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