N. A. M. Rodger
Command of the Ocean:
A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815.
W.W. Norton, 976 pages, $45

Academic scholarship often treats maritime history as a narrow subfield of military history, but several recent books indicate a renewed interest in Britain’s relationship with the sea. Jeremy Black’s British Seaborne Empire (Yale University Press) and Arthur Herman’s To Rule the Waves (HarperCollins) each connect aspects of maritime history with broader themes. The eagerly awaited second installment of Nicholas Rodger’s three-volume Naval History of Britain makes a worthy counterpart.

Rodger’s first volume, Safeguard of the Sea, published in 1997, explored the impact of naval affairs on British history from 660, a period before the emergence of either an English state or a permanent navy, through the end of English Civil Wars in 1648....


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