|Title:||The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649 (dust jacket only)|
|Categories:||The Walter Cronkite Collection|
|Authors:||N. A. M. Rodger|
|Publisher:||W. W. Norton & Company|
|Number of pages:||691|
Throughout the chronicle of Britain's history, one factor above all others has determined the fate of kings, the security of trade, and the integrity of the realm. Without its navy, Britain would have been a weakling among the nations of Europe, could never have built or maintained the empire, and in all likelihood would have been overrun by the armies of Napoleon and Hitler. Now, for the first time in nearly a century, a prominent naval historian has undertaken a comprehensive account of the history and traditions of this most essential institution. N. A. M. Rodger has produced a superb work, combining scholarship with narrative, that demonstrates how the political and social history of Britain has been inextricably intertwined with the strength--or weakness--of her sea power. From the desperate early military campaigns against the Vikings to the defeat of the great Spanish Armada in the reign of Elizabeth I, this volume touches on some of the most colorful characters in British history, among them Sir Francis Drake. It also provides fascinating details on naval construction, logistics, health, diet, and weaponry.
"Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves...." The dominance of the British Royal Navy in maritime history is legendary, but this has not always been the case. Various attempts to build and sustain a national standing Navy were attempted by a number of rulers, from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century to Henry V in the 15th century. It wasn't until the Tudor reign (1485 to 1603), however, that a permanent, effective Navy emerged. Until this time the shores of Britain had been susceptible to attack and invasion.
N.A.M. Rodger's compendium on the history of the Royal Navy (the first of a four volume set) reminds us that "the successful navies have been those which rested on long years of steady investment in the infrastructure ... of a seagoing fleet." Emphasizing the important role the Tudors played in building the financial foundation for the Navy, Rodger focuses on the role of Elizabeth I's administration and the amount of money shipbuilding absorbed during her reign. He also traces the evolution of professionalism in the Navy, demonstrating how the rank of naval officer became socially respectable, even though it was not exclusively open to just nobles--indeed, Francis Drake came from an impoverished background--setting a standard that would see the British Navy dominate the oceans for many years.
A fellow in the British National Maritime Museum, Rodger's unique understanding of this history comes across well as he explores a number of themes, ranging from policy and strategy to ship and weapon design. He gathers this information from Anglo-Saxon, Danish, French, Irish, and Spanish sources, carefully weaving these materials into an immense tapestry of incredible depth and scope. In years to come The Safeguard of the Sea promises to be the definitive account of British Naval History long after Britannia has stopped ruling the waves.