Features February 2008 Issue

Practical Sailor Book Review: Fireside Journeys for the Winter Months

Sailors landlocked until spring will find comfort in these entertaining nautical tomes.

Now that we’ve entered the full throes of winter, many of us must get our wind-and-water fix by the fireside. Whether searching for a winter escape or looking to boost your maritime history knowledge, here are a few reads sure to help you weather the season.

Cochrane, The Real Master and Commander

'Cochrane’

"Cochrane, The Real Master and Commander," David Cordingly, Bloomsbury Publishing, $33.

Under Enemy Colors

It’s no secret that the naval officer Jack Aubrey—the main character in Patrick O’Brian’s "Master and Commander," (written in 1970, made a movie in 2003)—was based on a real British officer: Thomas Cochrane.

In his book, historian David Cordingly offers a compelling biography of Cochrane. A colorful and clever man, Cochrane wore many hats: naval officer in the British-French-Spanish war (1793-1815), radical member of Parliament, and leader of the Chilean, Peruvian, Brazilian, and Greek navies (1818-1828).

Cordingly has done a superb job of researching Cochrane’s life and legend. The result is a highly recommended, entertaining, and informative read.

 

'Last Flag Down’

"Last Flag Down, the Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship," John Baldwin and Ron Powers, Crown Publishers, $26.

The story of the CSS Shenandoah, the confederate ship that wreaked havoc on Yankee merchant shipping after the confederate surrender, is well-documented. But as co-author of the "Last Flag Down" and a direct descendent of the ship’s executive officer, John Baldwin brings a new perspective to the tale. The story tells of the Shenandoah’s 1864-1865 circumnavigation, one ship trying singlehandedly to destroy the U.S. maritime economy.

"Last Flag Down" offers a snippet of history and is a good read.

Last Flag Down, the Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship

'Under Enemy Colors’

"Under Enemy Colors," S. Thomas Russell, G.P. Putnam & Sons, $26.

Along the naval traditions of O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey sagas,
S. Thomas Russell has created a stirring first novel set in 1793, during the British war with France. In "Under Enemy Colors," Russell’s sailing experience and solid grasp of history shine through with accurate details.

This is a first-rate novel relating the exploits, trials, and tribulations of First Lt. Charles Hayden on HMS Themis, a 32-gun British frigate commanded by the tyrannical Capt. Josiah Hart, Hayden’s nemesis.

Although Russell could have developed his characters deeper, it is an easy and enjoyable read of discipline, duty, and ship-board relationships.

 

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