This section contains reviews of books by David Hayes and members of the forum

Roger Marsh Review: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603 - 1714

British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603 - 1714Another volume in the excellent series of maritime books steadily being built up by Seaforth Publishing under the longestablished editorial team of Robert Gardiner and Julian Mannering, this impressive recent publication is one of three consecutive works by the wellknown Rif Winfield (perhaps known to readers as the author of such classic studies as The 50-gun Ship [1993], based on HMS Leopard — a lovely ship, even if one somewhat unpalatable both to US readers and to Patrick O'Brian's Captain Jack Aubrey!)

The study reviewed here takes us from the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and the accession of James I in 1603, to the death of Queen Anne and the start of the Georgian era in 1714. The second volume in the series will take us from 1714 through to 1792, just before the outbreak of war, and the third right through the Great French Wars from 1793 until 1817, just after the end of the Napoléonic Wars with France and the War of 1812 against the USA, both of which conflicts drew to a close in 1815. Both of these consecutive volumes by Rif Winfield are to be reviewed here later.

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Review: The Power and the Glory by William C. Hammond

The Power and the GloryIn the third instalment of the Cutler Family Chronicles the action moves to the Quasi War with France and find Lt. Richard Cutler serving on the first frigates of the young nations new navy USS Constellation and USS Constitution during the major actions of the campaign.

At the same time the ever expanding Cutler family is again used to explore the political and family relationships between America and England. Not many years before the two countries had fought one another as America struggled for independence with France aiding them. Now old friendships are reforming and after France starts to attack American trading vessels England and America find a common interest bringing them together over French colonial rule in Haiti.

As always the naval, family and political threads are woven together in an excellent well written and believable narrative by the author as he explores the early history of the young nation.

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Roger Marsh Review: First Rate

First Rate: The Greatest Warships of the Age of SailIt is a rare occurrence indeed to have the great pleasure of receiving quite such a magnificent large-format volume as this, Rif Winfield's First Rate, arriving on one's desk for review

The First Rate ships of the line were indeed, as the book's subtitle indicates, the greatest warships of the Age of Sail. They were the most powerful and the most impressive ships of war (or indeed ships of or for any other purpose) afloat for a period of some two-and-a-half centuries, as well as by far the most expensive vessels both to build and to maintain. Made and conceived to impress as well as to fight, the very size of a First Rate, together with the lavishness and detail of its decoration, was intended to strike awe into all who set eyes on it, whether at home or abroad, and to leave no doubt in the mind of any beholder concerning the might and prestige of the nation and monarch whose flag that ship bore. And, to quote the New York Times book reviewer Richard Snow writing nearly two decades ago now, whose words I can hardly better: "These sailing ships – today reduced to quaint and soothing images on wall calendars – were in their time the most complicated machines on earth, and the deadliest." Indeed, they were.

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Review: For Love of Country by William C. Hammond

For Love of CountryThis second book in the Cutler Family Chronicles explores the period when the young nation of America was finding it's feet. It was setting up it's forms of government but in Europe and North Africa was regarded as weak leading to the Barbary States of North Africa preying on it's trading vessels. It's main ally France, who had helped it to independence, was starting to experience it's own problems as revolution drew nearer.

These problems are brought home to the Cutlers when their ship Eagle, with Richard's brother Caleb aboard, is captured by Algerines and the crew is held for Ransom. Government expresses a concern for American seamen held in North Africa and a wish to do something about it but little practical seems to happen. The family must decide to handle the matter themselves and Richard sets off for Algiers.

Whilst there he faces the conflicting demands of his families and his countries interests before sailing for France where he must help an old friend caught up in the growing revolution.

I continue to enjoy this series, especially as reading them on this side of the Atlantic they give an insight into early American politics and international relations. The author weaves these facts into a narrative which flows well and leads you to empathise with his characters.

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Review: Peregrine by Michael Aye

PeregrineThis latest episode of the Fighting Anthony's story is again set in Caribbean and American waters during the period when the French first appear on the station after entering the American War of Independence. It sees the family having to deal with a relative of an old nemesis bent on revenge.

As usual the book is fast paced with plenty of action sequences without detailed descriptions of ship handling. Over the series quite a long list of characters has been built up, many of which make an appearance so it was useful to have a character list at the start to refresh the memory.

Whilst set in the historical timeline the books do not seek to insert the principal characters into true events and this gives the author more scope to produce a good yarn with a fresh feel. I continue to enjoy the series which is recommended.

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Review: A Matter of Honor by William C. Hammond

A Matter of HonorIf you want to write a novel about an American officer in the Continental Navy based around the facts of the War of Independence you probably have to place him with John Paul Jones on Ranger and Bonhomme Richard. However the major sea battle which decided the war at the Virginia Capes only involved the French Navy. The skill therefore is to bring these two elements together in a believable narrative. Hammond does at excellent job of this whilst at the same time exploring the difficulties of personal relationships when close friends and family, as well as the public at large, find themselves on opposite sides of a conflict with divided loyalties.

The principal character is Richard Cutler whose branch of the family live near Boston and handle the shipping side of the family business whilst other relations are based in England and the Caribbean. When his brother Will is pressed into the Royal Navy and flogged to death the War takes on a new dimension for the young Richard and he joins Ranger as a Midshipman with the aim of avenging his brother's death.

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