Book Review: Royal Tars: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 875-1850


by Brian Lavery

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010. Pp. 383. Illus., maps, diagr., appends., notes, biblio., index. $37.95. ISBN: 978-1-59114-743-5

Royal Tars takes a look at one of the most neglected aspects of the Royal Navy’s long history, the ordinary men, and the occasional woman, who formed the backbone of ships’ crews

A distinguished specialist on the Royal Navy, Lavery, emeritus director of Britain’s National Maritime Museum, and author of such notable works as Horatio Lord Nelson , Churchill Goes to War: Winston's Wartime Journeys , and In Which They Served: The Royal Navy Officer Experience in the Second World War , looks at the age of Fighting Sail, from the early seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries, to examine the life of those who populated the “lower deck.”  He deals with recruitment, often by impressment, living conditions, clothing, rations and messing, training, combat, discipline, mutiny, and more.  This approach gives the reader a “bottoms up” look at the great events in the history of the Royal Navy, rather than the strategic and tactical perspective common in accounts of the great sea wars of the period

Royal Tars is essential for anyone interested in war at sea in the period.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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