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Recommended reading for new Captains

Ned Loe

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Recommended Reading

Feel free to suggest more books about naval warfare. 




Here follows a list consisting of reading recommendations for fans of this game who want to learn more about naval history, battles or simply enjoy reading about the adventures and exploits of Captains. Reading the novels and books listed here is an excellent way of picking up Naval expressions and slang terms, and learning about the Naval life of centuries gone by.






Hornblower Series

By C. S. Forester

A series of books depicting the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, it was this Series of books that the TV Series “Hornblower” where based upon.

Recommended By Captain Jones


Books in order:

Mr Midshipman Hornblower

Lieutenant Hornblower

Hornblower and the Hotspur

Hornblower and the Crisis

Hornblower and the Atropos

The Happy Return

A Ship of the Line

Flying Colours

The Commodore

Lord Hornblower

Hornblower in the West Indies


Richard Bolitho Series

By Alexander Kent

A series of books where the first book starts of with the character being a midshipman aged 16 in 1772 and goes on right through his career. An excellent series of books and very descriptive allowing the reader to feel immersed in the 18th century.

Recommended by Captain Upton


Books in order:

Richard Bolitho - Midshipman

Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger

Stand Into Danger

In Gallant Company

Sloop of War

To Glory We Steer

Command a King's Ship

Passage to Mutiny

With All Despatch

Form Line of Battle!

Enemy in Sight!

The Flag Captain

Signal - Close Action!

The Inshore Squadron

A Tradition of Victory

Success to the Brave

Colours Aloft

Honour This Day

The Only Victor

Beyond the Reef

The Darkening Sea

For My Country's Freedom

Cross of St George

Sword of Honour


The Aubrey-Maturin Series

By Patrick O'Brian

Starting with Master and Commander, these books trace the career of Jack Aubrey, a fictitious naval Captain whose life is modelled on that of Admiral Thomas Cochrane. Superbly written, an inordinate amount of attention to detail, they really are required reading!

Recommended by Captain Walker


Books in order:

Master and Commander

Post Captain

HMS Surprise

The Mauritius Command

Desolation Island

The Fortune of War

The Surgeon's Mate

The Ionian Mission

Treason's Harbour

The Far Side of the World

The Reverse of the Medal

The Letter of Marque

The Thirteen-gun Salute

The Nutmeg of Consolation

Clarissa Oakes (Called Truelove in the USA )

The Wine-dark Sea

The Commodore

The Yellow Admiral

The Hundred Days

Blue at the Mizzen


Nicholas Ramage Series

By Dudley Pope

A Series of novels about Lord Nicholas Ramage, eldest son of the Tenth Earl of Blazey, Admiral of the White. A set of books that are very easy to read and a definite recommendation to anyone who is new to this genre.

Recommended by Captain Upton


Books in order:


Ramage and the Drumbeat

Ramage and the Freebooters

Governor Ramage RN

Ramage's Prize

Ramage and the Guillotine

Ramage's Diamond

Ramage's Mutiny

Ramage and the Rebels

The Ramage Touch

Ramage's Signal

Ramage & the Renegades

Ramage's Devil

Ramage's Trial

Ramage's Challenge

Ramage at Trafalgar

Ramage and the Saracens

Ramage and the Dido


Non Fiction


One Hundred Days

By Admiral Sandy Woodward & Patrick Robinson

This book is the account of the Falklands War from the point of view of the Task Force Commander. An excellent book, well written, with superb analyses of both the naval and land phases of the conflict.

Recommended by Captain Walker


The Illustrated Guide to Nelson's Navy

By Nicholas Blake & Richard Lawrence

An excellent introduction to the Age of Sail, this looks like a coffee table book, but actually packs a fair punch textually. The book describes all aspects of naval life between 1793 and 1815, from the Admiralty to Pusser's Rum, and uses both real life and the novels of O'Brian and the like to illustrate its points. Beautifully illustrated, I recommend this book highly! (And it only took 3 days to get through!)



By Commander Rick Jolly

A book devoted to naval slang and traditions. A very funny read! (and you may be able to decipher some of my more esoteric ramblings!)

Recommended by Captain Walker


Nelson's Favourite HMS Agamemnon at War 1781-1809

By Anthony Deane, Chatham Publishing (London) 1999

Recommended by Captain Hutton


The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War, 1600-1815

By Brian Lavery, Conway Maritime Press


The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War 1625-1680

By James Lees, Naval Institute Press


Both plainly informal about the construction of English Ships of War, but very interesting.

Recommended By Captain Norrington


Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World

Editor: Richard O'Neill

As the title says, it simply goes into some detail about the lives of the men who made up the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. It also has excellent period artwork. Although everyone interested in the period will enjoy it, it has references that apply only to Aubrey/Maturin series readers.

Recommended By Captain Hunt


Nelson's Navy: Ships, Men and Organization, 1793-1815 (Conway's History of Sail)


To Rule the Waves, How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World

By Arthur Herman

It is a very comprehensive book and I would recommend everyone give it a read.


Recommendations by Captains:


Duncan, D. “The Yankee Privateer”, 1779. TheWorld.com Online. http://theworld.com/~dduncan/p...eprivateer.html

Konstam, Angus. The History of Pirates. The Lyons Press, 1999, 2002.

Lehman, John. On Seas of Glory: Heroic Men, Great Ships, and Epic Battles of the American Navy. Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 2002.

MacLay, Edgar S., A History of American Privateers. Ayer Co. Publishers, 1977.

Maloney, Linda M. "The Captain from Connecticut: The Life and Naval Times of Isaac Hull, 1986". SeacoastNH.com, Online. Http://www.seacoastnh.com/navyyard/isaachull.html

Morison, Samuel Eliot. John Paul Jones. Time Incorporated, New York, 1959.

Paine, Ralph D. "The Old Merchant Marine. United States Publishing 1919." Public Domain Books - Online. http://www.authorama.com/old-merchant-marine-1.html

Petrie, Donald A., "The Prize Game". Naval Institute, Annapolis, 1999.

Stivers, Rueben E., "Privateers and Volunteers", Naval Institute, Annapolis, 1975.

Thomas, Evan. John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2003.

Wilson, Sally D. “Who was Commodore Whipple?” Revolutionary Portraits: People, Places and Events from Rhodes Island Historic Past. Rhode Island Bicentennial Foundation, 1976. pp 6-15. Online. Http://www.whipple.org/abe/commodore.html


Dr. Howard, Frank, "Sailing Ships of War 1400-1860" Convay Maritime Press Ltd. 1979. 256 pages (German version from 1983: "Segel-Kriegsschiffe 1400-1860" Bernard & Graefe Verlag ISBN 3-7637-5239-0)




This section contains additional materials sent in by members of SGS.

If you can't find the word or expression here then try:

Item contains: costs, artillery size, range, etc. (very detailed)

Excellent site for coins of the realm. Learn all about the currency of the day.

William Falconer's Dictionary of the Marine:

The Official HMS Victory Website:

The Royal Marines:

Most interesting information about the "Golden Age of Pirates"


Original source:

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Great job as allways sir Wind and thank you very much for these information you are a golden book of informations and a

very good photograph master !

Please keep up with your fine work ;)



I dont know if anyone else has suggested but if not there is a serie called Black Sails  one whole season with 8 episodes and a second season with 7 episodes out so far.



And i third that!!!




Kind regards sir Wind,




Comandante Axis - RAE

Edited by Axralis
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Here are a couple:


"Seamanship in the Age of Sail"

John Harland

Illustrated by Mark Myers

Pub: 1984 (reprinted through 1996) Conway Maritime Press (In the US by Naval Institute Press)

ISBN: 0-87021-955-3


Super detail about every aspect of sailing ships, square rigged ships mainly. Recommended to crew of tall ships, which is when I bought it in the 90's for $60. Sadly quite expensive now unless your library has a copy:







"Nelson's Navy, Revised and Updated: The Ships, Men, and Organization, 1793-1815" by Brian Lavery


Great detail on recruitment, living conditions, dockyards, plus of course the ships and armament. I have the original edition published in 2000.





"Nelson and the Nile" by Brian Lavery


This one is on kindle for $3.99. It covers the campaign leading up to the battle as well as the battle itself.




Also I would recommend the "Anatomy of a Ship" series. I have the one on the USS Constitution




Also on HMS Victory (in paperback)





Web site for ship details, including load outs, launching date, history and fate:





Thanks to Wind for starting this thread!

Edited by DeRuyter
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I just finished "Ocean Life in the Old Sailing Ship Days" by John D. Whidden.  This is a non-fiction account of a sailors journey from the foc'sl as a boy, to captaining his own Clippers.  It's set a little after the game's timeline (mid-1800s), but really gives a lot of detailed history of sailing worldwide and history.  It was an extremely interesting book!  I got it on Kindle for $.99 so it's easy on the wallet too.  http://amzn.com/B00HS4LKTQ


I'll second "Two Years Before the Mast" by Richard Henry Dana, another real life account of sailing during that period.  I enjoyed every page.  The older copy is free, the newer is $.99 on Kindle:



Today, I downloaded "Trafalgar, an Eyewitness History" ($5.99 on Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00D933RVE) by Tom Pocock  and "Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex" ($.99 on Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00GPXMD9W) (awarded "Longest Title for a Book") by Owen Chase - I downloaded the older copy of this, not the more expanded and I assume fictionalized version from which they're making a movie.

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I just finished "Ocean Life in the Old Sailing Ship Days" by John D. Whidden.  This is a non-fiction account of a sailors journey from the foc'sl as a boy, to captaining his own Clippers.  It's set a little after the game's timeline (mid-1800s), but really gives a lot of detailed history of sailing worldwide and history.  It was an extremely interesting book!  I got it on Kindle for $.99 so it's easy on the wallet too.


I'll second "Two Years Before the Mast" by Richard Henry Dana, another real life account of sailing during that period.  I enjoyed every page.


Today, I downloaded "Trafalgar, an Eyewitness History" by Tom Pocock and "Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex" (awarded "Longest Title for a Book") by Owen Chase - I downloaded the older copy of this, not the more expanded and I assume fictionalized version from which they're making a movie.


sir Darby if you would be so kind and when you got time ofc to post some links where did you downloaded those will be much appreciated.

Thank you in advance ;)

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Decisions at Trafalgar, of the Heart of Oak Sea Classics series is a splendid read.


It gives a small bit of dual perspective of English and French and Spanish sailors, captains and admirals, but still heavily focuses ob Nelson and the English position. 


Decisions at Trafalgar is the only book of the Hearts series I have been able to get my hands on (at a reasonable price), but if the other books are in a similar format, I should imagine they are quite good to peruse.

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I recently read TARS by Tim Clayton and thoroughly enjoyed it. So did my friend who I gave it to after I'd finished. He's a big fan of the Aubrey/Maturin series so there's a good chance anyone into those would enjoy that too.


Plus, you can get it on Amazon for postage price alone.



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A few more for the list, less Anglo-centric and non-Naval (just for variety):



Where the Sea Breaks its Back

by Corey Ford


Voyages of the Columbia to the Northwest Coast, 1787-1790 & 1790-1793

ed. by Frederick Howay


Non-period, but worth reading:


Tall Ships Down: the last voyages of the Pamir, Albatross, Marques, Pride of Baltimore and Maria Asumpta

by Daniel Parrot


Pride of the Sea: Courage, Disaster and a Fight for Survival

by Tom Waldron

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  • 2 weeks later...

Umm good reading lads i've certainly enjoyed most if not all of them......heres a few more I've also enjoyed all good page turners
Dewey Lambdin......Alan Lewrie naval adventure series, spanning the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars,an interesting read these.......full of sex and naval adventure[/size]

Alan Lewrie books[edit][/size]


David Donachie (born 1944) is a Scottish nautical historical novelist. He also writes under the pen-names Tom Connery and Jack Ludlow


The Privateersman Mysteries[edit]

  1. The Devil's Own Lucke (1991)
  2. The Dying Trade (1993)
  3. A Hanging Matter (1994)
  4. An Element of Chance (1995)
  5. The Scent of Betrayal (1996)
  6. A Game of Bones (1997)

The Markham of the Marines Series (writing as Tom Connery)[edit]

  1. A Shred of Honour (1996)
  2. Honour Redeemed (1997)
  3. Honour Be Damned (1999)

Nelson and Emma[edit]

  1. On a Making Tide (2000)
  2. Tested by Fate (2001)
  3. Breaking the Line (2003)

The John Pearce Series[edit]

  1. By the Mast Divided (2004)
  2. A Shot Rolling Ship (2005)
  3. An Awkward Commission (2006)
  4. Flag of Truce (2008)
  5. The Admirals' Game (2008)
  6. An Ill Wind (2009)
  7. Blown off Course (2011)
  8. Enemies at Every Turn (2011)
  9. A Sea of Troubles (2012)
  10. A Divided Command (2013)
  11. The Devil to Pay (2014)

The Republic Series (writing as Jack Ludlow)[edit]

  1. The Pillars of Rome (2007)
  2. The Sword of Revenge (2008)
  3. The Gods of War (2008)

The Conquest Series (writing as Jack Ludlow)[edit]

  1. Mercenaries
  2. Warriors
  3. Conquest

James L Nelson[/size]


Bibliography[edit] Novel series[edit] Revolution at Sea saga[edit]

features "Isaac Biddlecomb"

  1. By Force of Arms (1997), ISBN 978-0-671-51924-7
  2. The Maddest Idea (1997), ISBN 978-0-671-51925-4
  3. The Continental Risque (1998), ISBN 978-0-671-01381-3
  4. Lords of the Ocean (1999), ISBN 978-0-671-03490-0
  5. All the Brave Fellows (2001), ISBN 978-0-671-03846-5

Brethren of the Coast series[edit]

features "Thomas Marlowe"

  1. The Guardship (2000), ISBN 0-380-80452-2.[2]

Spanish edition published by Ediciones B as "El vigía" in 2004.

  1. The Blackbirder (2001), ISBN 0-06-000779-6.[3] Spanish edition published by Ediciones B as "El negrero" in 2005.
  2. The Pirate Round (2002), ISBN 0-06-053926-7.[4] Spanish edition published by Ediciones B as "La ronda del pirata" in 2007.

Civil War at Sea series[edit]

features "Samuel Bowater"

  1. Glory in the Name (2004), ISBN 0-06-095905-3[5]
  2. Thieves of Mercy (2005), ISBN 0-06-019970-9[6][7]

Book of the Norsemen[edit]

A Tale of Viking Age Ireland

Standalone novels[edit]



Julian Stockwin's series

Thomas Kydd series[edit]

  • Kydd (2001)
  • Artemis (2002)
  • Seaflower (2003)
  • Mutiny (2004)
  • Quarterdeck (2005)
  • Tenacious (2005)
  • Command (2006)
  • The Admiral's Daughter (2007)
  • Treachery (2008) (US title "The Privateer's Revenge")
  • Invasion (2009)
  • Victory (2010)
  • Conquest (2011)
  • Betrayal (2012)
  • Caribbee (2013)
  • Pasha (2014)
  • Tyger (2015 forthcoming)

Peter Smalley

  • HMS Expedient (2005)
  • Port Royal (2006)
  • Barbary Coast (2007)
  • The Hawk (2008)
  • The Gathering Storm (2009)
  • The Pursuit (2010)
Edited by Wym
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  • 1 month later...

I read everything about the period that I can find. And recently this has included:


1. Empire of the Deep - the rise and fall of the British navy by Ben Wilson

It covers Saxon times through to the present and includes tactics, politics and a fair bit of detail about the 18th / 19th century that I have not seen before.


2. Frigates, Sloops & Brigs by James Henderson

Combat accounts - you'll see how the small ships had all the fun.

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Cochrane: The Story of Britannia's Sea Wolf


The Glorious First of June: Fleet Battle in the Reign of Terror

(And the rest of the Hearts of Oak trilogy)


The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815


Jack Tar: Life in Nelson's Navy

(Telling in the story of the age of sail from the point of view of ordinary seamen)

Edited by BustyLove
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Hello all! First post here.


I'm a great enthusiast of naval warfare, and I have done numerous conference presentations during my academic career focusing on 17th, 18th and 19th century navies, specifically that of the United Kingdom, American Republic, and Dutch Republic. A few books that I would seriously recommend are the following:


-Toll, Ian W. Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the US Navy. WW Norton&Company, 2008. 

*I'd argue the least 'dense' of the books I'm going to recommend, in the sense that it is a great narrative and less heavy on terminology. That said, it is still a wonderful read, very intelligently written and valuable for someone interested in learning about navies of the era.


-Utt, Ronald. Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron: The War of 1812 and the Forging of the American Navy. Regnery History, 2012

*Another very readable book, not dissimilar to Toll's 'Six Frigates'. I enjoyed it thoroughly.


-Rodger, N.A.M. The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815. WW Norton&Company, 2005

*This is the most dense book on this list, as N.A.M. Rodger is the preeminent historian on the subject of naval history. It's an extremely long book, not something one will simply sit down with and read, though the number of stories and information it contains is fantastic for someone who wants to have a comprehensive text concerning British naval history in the early-modern period.


-Rodger, N.A.M. The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. WW Norton&Company, 1996

*An older book, but still one that's worth examining for what it is. This is not a book ripe with action and adventure such as the others on this list, but rather a very dry yet informative explanation of the inner-workings of the British Navy during the Georgian era. For an individual who is interested in the details of how the navy was structured, administered, supplied, utilized in combat, even down to how officers and men were recruited, trained, and their basic lives, this is a book for you.


-Mostert, Noel. The Line Upon a Wind: The Great War at Sea, 1793-1815. WW Norton&Company, 2008.

*Another very dense book, and not one I would recommend reading without some familiarity with naval and maritime terminology. It provides little explanation to these and other seagoing idioms. That said, for a more learned reader it is a fantastic work which gives a great image of the development of naval strategy from the beginning of seagoing, and into the naval administrations of both the United Kingdom and France, as well as the personalities of their respective commanders. Not only this, but it has excellent descriptions of battles drawn from innumerable first hand accounts. A definite must read.


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  • 2 months later...

Im really surprised that no one mentioned:

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo
Roy Adkins, Lesley Adkins


It is quite light book and excellent introduction to final moments of age of sail.

That is also very good expansion to Aubrey-Maturin series.



Edited by Jim
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  • 5 weeks later...

It was recomended me ba Snoopy, and it is really nice book about how they were sailing in Age of Sail.

This book can show you how simple model of sailing is implemented in NA.


Seamanship in the Age of Sail 
by John H. Harland (Author), Mark Myers (Illustrator) 



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  • 2 weeks later...

I would definitely second the illustrated companion to Jack Aubrey's World and the Patrick O'Brian books.

Another couple of interesting books are 'Cochrane the Dauntless' by David Cordingly and 'Commander' by Stephen Taylor which chronicles the exploits of Captain Pellew.


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