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

Roger Marsh Review: The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010

The Sea Painter's World: The New Marine Art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010Another magnificent volume of the work of one of the undisputed foremost maritime artists of our own time, well-known to many of our readers, this one covering many of Geoff Hunt’s recent paintings. The last time I had the pleasure of receiving a volume of his paintings was three years ago, the book written and produced together with Brian Lavery on HMS Surprise, containing all the cover paintings of the Patrick O’Brian books as well as a wealth of others.

This new book covers Geoff Hunt’s work since then as well as some earlier paintings. In contrast to the HMS Surprise volume, there is greater diversity of subject here. Though the artist’s home period is clearly that of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, we are taken right back to the 16th century with his definitive study of the Mary Rose based on all the researched information now available (culminating in his now well-known 2009 painting reproduced in the book) and right up to the present day HMS Bulwark at the International Fleet review on 28th June 2005, HMS Dragon building at VT Portsmouth and HMS Ark Royal in drydock at Portsmouth in May 2009. Modern sail and port scenes are covered as well.


Review: Prince of the Atlantic by Mark M. McMillin

Prince of the AtlanticIn the second instalment of the adventures of Captain Luke Ryan the action really starts as he sails from Dunkirk as a privateer under the American flag. It is based on the true story of Ryan who was an Irish smuggler who became a privateer under a Letter of Marque from Benjamin Franklin and went on to command the Calonne, a 400 ton ex-French naval frigate of two decks and 36 guns with a crew of nearly 250 men of Irish, French, American and Dutch nationalities.

He was one of the most successful privateers and the book fully explores his many captures and battles with British warships as well as the political intrigue caused as a result of an Irishman sailing from France under American colours with a multinational crew.


Review: Reefs and Shoals by Dewey Lambdin

Reefs and ShoalsIn this latest excerpt of his adventures, Captain Sir Alan Lewrie, aboard his frigate Reliant, hoists his broad pendant as Commodore in charge of a squadron of small vessels suppressing privateering off the shores of Cuba, Spanish Florida, the Keys and the Florida Straits. He must also visit American ports to assess whether, as neutrals, they are giving aid to the privateers.

It is refreshing to read about Lewrie who is not as 'correct' as many of the naval fiction heroes and has a depth of character you can empathise with. Captain's are usually depicted as having that god like separation from their officers and men which is even present to some extent with those who they might regard as friends but Lewrie keeps pets and is a friend to all.

The role of a junior Commodore in distant waters with the difficult task of suppressing privateers on a coast with endless small bays where they can hide, whilst at the same time steering a difficult diplomatic path with touchy American sensibilities over their recently won freedom and neutrality, is fully explored in this novel and you can step into the shoes of Lewrie as he struggles to achieve these aims.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.


Review: Gather the Shadowmen by Mark M. McMillin

Gather the ShadowmenWhen someone mentions attacks on British shipping in home waters during the American Revolution usually one name springs to mind, John Paul Jones. I was surprised to learn therefore that there was someone possibly even more successful who I had never heard of, Luke Ryan.

Ryan was an Irish smuggler operating out of Dunkirk who became a privateer sailing with an American Letter of Marque from Benjamin Franklin and went on to command the Calonne, a 400 ton ex-French naval frigate of two decks and 36 guns with a crew of nearly 250 men of Irish, French, American and Dutch nationalities. A small band of ships sailed under his overall command.

In a new three book series Mark M. McMillin is relating a fictional story based on the exploits of this remarkable man and I have just finished the first of these Gather the Shadowmen: The Lords of the Ocean which covers the period he was smuggling through to the decision to become a privateer.


Alaric Bond Review: The Perfect Wreck by Steven E. Maffeo

The Perfect WreckThe outcome of the meeting between Constitution and Java is well known, and there is a danger with any story which has a forgone conclusion that tension or excitement can be either missing, or contrived. This is definitely not the case with A Perfect Wreck; from the start, with Constitution active and potent at sea, and Java working up at Portsmouth after her capture from the French, the story pulls the reader forward with a pace that is quite compelling. Maffeo adds poignance by fleshing out the historical characters, making them real, three dimensional, and totally believable while the wealth of detail that is present throughout the book, gives a fascinating background to the story, without slowing the plot or becoming in any way instructional.

In short we have a well researched and excellently written book; one that reads as easily as any novel, and yet carries the accuracy and credibility of a good reference work. A difficult trick, but one that Maffeo has pulled off perfectly.


Alaric Bond Review: The War For All The Oceans by Roy Adkins & Lesley Adkins

The War For All The OceansThe War for All the Oceans covers all major, and some less well known, naval actions from the latter part of the revolutionary war, to the end of the Napoleonic. As is always the case with the Adkins's work, it is meticulously researched, well presented and very hard to put down.

Although it is crammed full with information, and could certainly be used as one, I consider this more than just a reference book: the term conjurers up lists of details and dates that can make for dry, academic reading. The War for All the Oceans tells a story, and tells it well, with a blend of authoritative commentary and original reference material that almost involves the reader in the research. It is a style that the Adkins are masters of, and makes their work extremely readable.

Extensive maps, illustrations (many of which were new to me), a comprehensive index and bibliography, and a selected reading list finish off the package perfectly. Fascinating and compelling reading: highly recommended.


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