BOOK REVIEW – Invading America: The British Assault on the New World, 1497-1630

By David Childs, Seaforth Publishing, South Yorkshire, UK, (2012).

Reviewed by Thomas Sheppard

The arrival of British settlers in the so-called “New World” has been characterized at various times as a discovery, an encounter, or even a clash of civilizations. All these descriptions have merit, but David Childs contends that perhaps the century of English expansion into the Americas is best viewed as an invasion. It possessed all the key characteristics of an invasion; early settlements functioned more as beachheads than towns, and many of these had to be abandoned because of reinforcement and supply problems. The various efforts to establish such footholds, which Childs regards as multiple events in a single, long-term operation rather than separate episodes, depended heavily on control of the seas to provide a steady stream of supplies. The most important act upon landing was not planting crops but building fortifications against Indian or Spanish attack. Only with the success of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 did the operation change from establishing beachheads to conquering the land and building permanent colonies.

(read the full review here)

BOOK REVIEW – Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs: How the English Became the Scourge of the Sea

By Hugh Bicheno, Conway Press, United Kingdom, (2012).

Reviewed by Mark Lardas

Up to the last 50 years or so Britannia ruled the waves.  It remains able to project naval power. Many assume it was always that way, yet reality is different.  Britain’s naval dominance dates only to early modern times. From Roman times to the ascension of the Tudor monarchs Britain was the 98-pound weakling kicked around by ancient and medieval naval powers. Henry VIII’s naval buildup began to change that, but Britain rise to naval dominance was sealed during the reign of Elizabeth I.  Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs: How the English became the Scourge of the Sea, by Hugh Bicheno examines this transformation.

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BOOK REVIEW – Admiral Insubordinate: The Life and Times of Lord Beresford

By Richard Freeman, Self-Published, Great Britain, (2012)

Reviewed by Nathan Albright

Richard Freeman is a historian of several (mostly self-published) books, including The Great Edwardian Naval Feud, Britain’s Greatest Naval Battle, and A Close Run Thing: the Navy and the Falklands War. It is clear that much of the research for this book flowed out the author’s previous research in the Edwardian British navy, of which Lord Beresford was a noisy figure.

(read the full review)

New Video Series on the War of 1812

RH Rositzke & Associates, LLC, has completed work on five videos for the U.S. Navy’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration. We’ve posted previously about some of their recent work, including a video on last year’s Centennial of Naval Aviation and a series on the U.S. Navy in the Civil War. This latest release on the War of 1812 will be displayed as part of Navy exhibits at venues across the country, where the Bicentennial is being observed.

(read more here)

BOOK REVIEW: Nile 1798 – Nelson’s first great victory

By Gregory Fremont-Barnes, Osprey Publishing, UK (2011).

Reviewed by Captain John A. Rodgaard USN (Ret.)

Osprey Publishing’s Campaign Series of books are noted for their concise quality in conveying military history. One of their latest offerings, written by Dr. Gregory Fremont-Barnes, is no exception. Nile 1798: Nelson’s first great victory is well laid-out; succinctly written and beautifully illustrated, to include many examples from the author’s own collection of prints.

(read the full review here)

On 24 April 1778 the Continental Navy sloop Ranger, under the command of John Paul Jones, captured the British sloop Drake off Ireland. This painting of the battle is by Arthur N. Disney, Sr. NHHC Photo NH 48548-KN.

BOOK REVIEW: The Great Expedition – Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish Main, 1585-86

By Angus Konstam, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, England, (2011).

Reviewed by Charles Bogart

For the past decade, Osprey Publishing has been producing high quality, well illustrated books on various military affairs. This book is part of their Raid Series and tells the story of Sir Francis Drake’s raid on Spanish possessions in the Caribbean Sea. With a force of 21 small ships and 1,800 men, Drake, in 1585, captured and plundered the cities of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and Cartagena (Columbia). This raid was planned to show the military weakness of the Spanish colonial empire, from which the Spanish Crown drew the gold and silver it needed to fight its battles of conquest in Europe.

(read the full review here)

On 4 April 1776, the Continental Navy frigate Columbus captured His Majesty’s Tender Hawke, the first American capture of a British armed vessel during the American Revolution. This painting in oils by W. Nowland Van Powell, shows Columbus, under the command of Captain Abraham Whipple, bringing in the British brig Lord Lifford, while operating off the New England coast in 1776. (NHHC Photo NH 85210-KN)

On 23 March 1815, sloop of war USS Hornet captured brig-sloop HMS Penguin in a battle lasting 22 minutes in the South Atlantic. The Treaty of Ghent had been ratified in February, but word of the end of the War of 1812 was slow to reach ships far out at sea. Thus, this battle occurred well after the war was technically “over.”

In this halftone reproduction of an artwork by Carlton T. Chapman, the badly damaged Penguin is seen at right with Hornet at left. (NHHC Photo NH 1857)