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The Command of the Ocean

The Command of the Ocean

To command the ocean was to command the world. Between the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the Navy became one of the central institutions of the evolving British state. The Command of the Ocean shows how and why the Navy was integral to the success of both the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution and the British Empire. Based on the author’s own research in half a dozen languages over nearly a decade, the book describes the rise of Britain to naval greatness, and the central place of the Navy in the life of the nation and government.


N.A.M. Rodger brings the fictional character of Jack Aubrey to real life. Describing not just battles and cruises, but how the Navy was manned, how it was supplied with timber, hemp and iron, how its men (and women) were fed, and how it was financed and directed, he shows how and why Naval dominance of European waters was the largest, longest, most complex and expensive project ever undertaken by the British state and society. He firmly places British naval history into the history of Britain and the land its empire. Yet throughout The Command of the Ocean, analysis and exposition is never allowed to diminish the humanity of the extraordinary personal stories it tells.


With accounts of all the main battles including Cape St Vincent, The Nile, Copenhagen, Trafalgar, and reassessments of the main figures of the period, Charles II, Pepys, Hawke, Rodney, Howe, Jervis and of course Nelson and Collingwood themselves, no naval history has been attempted on this scale since the end of the nineteenth century. 

About the Author

N. A. M. Rodger

N. A. M. Rodger is Professor of Naval History at Exeter University and Anderson Senior Research Fellow, National Maritime Museum. He is the author of The Wooden World and The Admiralty as well as the highly acclaimed first volume on the naval history of Britain, The Safeguard of the Sea.