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World Of Jack Aubrey, The [Hardcover]

David Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 25 2003
Here's a stunningly illustrated guide to the ships, weapons, uniforms, and equipment described in Patrick O'Brian's sequence of 20 popular novels about the 19th-century British Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and his surgeon colleague Stephen Maturin. Called "the best historical novels every written" by The New York Times, the books have sold more than three million copies and inspired the epic film adaptation starring Russell Crowe. A must for any O'Brian enthusiast, this volume boasts striking full-color photographs illustrating a vast array of equipment, medals, weapons, and other objects, and is unique in that many of the featured items are actual battle relics, such as the coat Admiral Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar -- complete with bullet hole.

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About the Author

David Miller is a highly respected author of more than 35 internationally successful books on weapons and warfare. A former British Army officer, with extensive service in Europe, the Falklands, and the Far East, he was a staff journalist on the prestigious International Defense Review and Editor of Jane's Major Surface Warships. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but could have offered a bit more Feb. 21 2004
Format:Hardcover
I am a newcomer to the world of Aubrey and Maturin, and like a novice I have found myself somewhat overwhelmed by the overwhelming amount of nautical and naval detail contained in the book. I sought this book out because I thought it might help make that world a bit clearer. To a very large extent, this handsome though slender volume did the trick. The book provides a to-the-point introduction to the world of naval combat during the Napoleonic age, and I definitely have a clearer idea of the kinds of ships that were around at that time. I read through the book once, and I anticipate going to it again as I work my way through the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin volumes (I'm currently nearing the end of H.M.S. SURPRISE, the third book).
Despite having learned from the book, I was somewhat disappointed that it didn't cover more. I can think of two chapters that I would very much have profited from. The first would have been a chapter dealing with the "stuff" of a ship. This volume does this slightly in talking of the sailing rig of a typical boat, but I would have liked more detail. What weight was the rope used on these boats and was it hemp? Where did they store extra rope. How did they deal with the water needs of the ship's inhabitants, how much was allotted to a sailor each day, and how often did they need to resupply water and food? The second chapter that I would have liked to see would have been one on the mechanics of sailing. I am not a sailor, and have never been on a sailboat (despite living in Chicago alongside Lake Michigan). I would have benefited enormously from a chapter explaining how a ship of the British navy moved about on the water. Navigating ships is a major feature of the novels, and I would very much have loved more explanation of how this is done.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The real history in the story Feb. 10 2004
By B.P.
Format:Hardcover
Specific in subject, this book illustrates the past naval environment in which the novels of Partick O'Brian are set. Focusing on just the elements that relate to the Aubrey/Maturin story. In the first couple chapters it describes a variety of historical ships used basically in the wars between 1793 and 1815. How they where classified in rates, highlighting a few key happenings in the life of each vessel. Then necessities of sailing are elaborated upon as well as naval weapons and uniforms in the later part of the book. The short and final few chapters deal with Other Naval Powers in opposition to the Royal Navy as well as Privateers and Pirates. Significant ships, countries, events and the Letter of Marque are mainly what occupy the text here.
The book exhibits many wonderful color pictures. For quick reference there are charts, a diagram labeling the sails of a ship, and ship profile info squared off separately from the text throughout the pages. Probably what is greatly valuable is the Glossary of Nautical Terms. The information provided is the basics, but it still remains quite educational for the novice. The entire book makes a nice direct guide to the old maritime world surrounding our Captain Jack Aubrey character.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good starting point July 17 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Very helpful in filling in background to the Aubrey/Maturin series only too brief (only 80 pages). This book is a good place to start acquiring info on the subject matter of the books, especially if you are a hopeless lubber like myself.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but could have offered a bit more Feb. 21 2004
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a newcomer to the world of Aubrey and Maturin, and like a novice I have found myself somewhat overwhelmed by the overwhelming amount of nautical and naval detail contained in the book. I sought this book out because I thought it might help make that world a bit clearer. To a very large extent, this handsome though slender volume did the trick. The book provides a to-the-point introduction to the world of naval combat during the Napoleonic age, and I definitely have a clearer idea of the kinds of ships that were around at that time. I read through the book once, and I anticipate going to it again as I work my way through the rest of the Aubrey/Maturin volumes (I'm currently nearing the end of H.M.S. SURPRISE, the third book).
Despite having learned from the book, I was somewhat disappointed that it didn't cover more. I can think of two chapters that I would very much have profited from. The first would have been a chapter dealing with the "stuff" of a ship. This volume does this slightly in talking of the sailing rig of a typical boat, but I would have liked more detail. What weight was the rope used on these boats and was it hemp? Where did they store extra rope. How did they deal with the water needs of the ship's inhabitants, how much was allotted to a sailor each day, and how often did they need to resupply water and food? The second chapter that I would have liked to see would have been one on the mechanics of sailing. I am not a sailor, and have never been on a sailboat (despite living in Chicago alongside Lake Michigan). I would have benefited enormously from a chapter explaining how a ship of the British navy moved about on the water. Navigating ships is a major feature of the novels, and I would very much have loved more explanation of how this is done. I'm sure many books deal with this, but this volume's lacking this means that it is not a one-book-deals-with-all resource. I was also somewhat saddened that there wasn't some larger discussion of surgical practice on a ship, perhaps a selection of surgical instruments, though I must admit that the title refers only to Aubrey, not Maturin.
Despite the rather circumscribed subject matter of the book, this is a very helpful introduction to anyone like myself who knows little about the early 19th century British navy and would like to learn more. The book itself is very attractively done, and the illustrations are great. There is a host of great photographs of ships. I especially like the few occasions when ships were depicted that had appeared in the novels I have read so far. In short, this is a very fine little book, but I'm not sure that an Aubrey/Maturin fan couldn't do better.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The real history in the story Feb. 10 2004
By B.P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Specific in subject, this book illustrates the past naval environment in which the novels of Partick O'Brian are set. Focusing on just the elements that relate to the Aubrey/Maturin story. In the first couple chapters it describes a variety of historical ships used basically in the wars between 1793 and 1815. How they where classified in rates, highlighting a few key happenings in the life of each vessel. Then necessities of sailing are elaborated upon as well as naval weapons and uniforms in the later part of the book. The short and final few chapters deal with Other Naval Powers in opposition to the Royal Navy as well as Privateers and Pirates. Significant ships, countries, events and the Letter of Marque are mainly what occupy the text here.
The book exhibits many wonderful color pictures. For quick reference there are charts, a diagram labeling the sails of a ship, and ship profile info squared off separately from the text throughout the pages. Probably what is greatly valuable is the Glossary of Nautical Terms. The information provided is the basics, but it still remains quite educational for the novice. The entire book makes a nice direct guide to the old maritime world surrounding our Captain Jack Aubrey character.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but needs editing Dec 16 2004
By Kevin Wang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This slim volume is very attractively put together. The layout is pleasing, and the many photos and historical paintings are easily the best part of the book. Past that, though, the quality drops off.

The text is reasonably well written, but doesn't always flow well. Often you'll turn the page and be surprised that the chapter is over. Or you'll read fairly detailed information on one subject, yet find gaps in others. For instance, there is a detailed chart of the actual weight of cannon shot depending on the nationality of its manufacture. This is interesting, but seems oddly out of place. In many places the book feels like a hastily organized jumble of facts. A bit more effort, and the services of a decent editor, would have improved this book.

Another improvement that could have been made by an editor is the removal of numerous typos and glitches. On one page, two illustrations have their captions transposed. In many other places obvious typos are present. If I can catch them by reading the book once, they shouldn't be there.

Perhaps the worst flaw of this book is its incompleteness. It's missing a serious discussion of how ships were sailed, information on battle tactics, and recurring locales from the novels. Worse, the book uses terms that it never explains. For instance, the caption of one illustration mentions that the bowsprit gammoning is ommitted for clarity. But gammoning is not in the glossary. (As it turns out, if you google for "bowsprit gammoning" you'll find an amazing online reference, geared towards model ship builders, with more detail than you can shake a stick at) The book is filled with such omissions. I'm pretty familiar with nautical terminology, but I'd worry for someone who got this book as their only reference.

Overall, I enjoyed the book; I received it as a gift and am happy with it. The numerous contemporary illustrations and photos of actual items are a joy, and the book did contain facts that I had not previously been aware of. However, as a reference book, it is somewhat lacking.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book on Royal Navy Nov. 3 2005
By Dr J - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a small coffee table book (less than a hundred pages) that is intended as an introduction to Patick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey novels. It is chock-full of diagrams, drawings, tables, pictures and so on. It covers a wealth of topics, such as types and ratings of vessels, sails and sailing, weapons. Uniforms, naval powers other than Great Britain, and privateers. It also includes a glossary at the end. There is a lot of information packed into those 90 or so pages and the reader can learn a lot. However, there is one great drawback to this book: it is written in a style that is sometimes hard to follow and assumes the reader already has a certain command of naval vocabulary. One example (page 43) will suffice:

"The lower mast passed down through holes in the deck known as partners and was stepped on the kelson. Masts were held in position by forestays which extended forward on the centerline of the vessel, while there were two sets of backstays extending aft to be secured to the sides by channel plates. The masts were stayed athwartships by shrouds."

Huh? If you can follow that, great, but in a book designed as an introduction, it's a bit much. One has to keep flipping to the glossary to figure out what's going on. However, not all the problematic words are in the glossary, kelson for example is absent (Kelson does appear in Sea of Words-see my review of that excellent book). This style diminishes the value of the book somewhat. If you find a copy, read it, but make sure you have Sea of Words at hand.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading and owning!!! June 26 2006
By Dan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Anyone interested in the 19th century world of the British Royal Navy will find this book invaluable. Although Captain Jack Aubrey is fictional, the history is correct of that era. There are photos of museum relics, and much information fron primary sources. It is the most complete and affordable book I have yet seen that explains the ships of that era.One section even describes the uniforms of the Royal Navy and the Marines

of that era, a subject somewhat difficult to locate primary sources about.A great, hardback book that will keep the reader interested.
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