N.A.M. Rodger

N.A.M. Rodger is an emeritus fellow of All Souls College and the author of an ongoing naval history of Britain. The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy was published in a new edition in 2009.

The‘common seamen’ of the age of sail are both an obvious subject to write about, and an obvious one to avoid. Most readers, and writers, will have a sense of the seaman’s life as having been exotic, dangerous, heroic even – but there are not many real experts on it, and fewer still with the literary powers necessary to recreate a way of life so remote from most...

So many ships and fleets and armies

N.A.M. Rodger, 6 February 2020

There​ can scarcely be a subject about which more books have been written than the Second World War, and yet surprisingly few of them risk a synthesis of the whole. Many writers refer to the war in their titles, but their subjects are usually only a part of the whole: a campaign, a geographical area, a single country or, very often, a single armed service. Perhaps that isn’t so...


N.A.M. Rodger, 21 September 2016

Warships​ are built for war, but not only for war. They have always had an eloquent symbolic value as expressions of power, wealth and resolve, as instruments of threat or reassurance. They speak this language in peacetime just as much as in war. But ‘language’ should really be in the plural. Different kinds of warship convey different meanings, in different languages, and the...

Putting the navy in its place

Linda Colley, 3 February 2005

You might think that Trafalgar Square says it all. Its massive column surmounted by the 18-foot-high statue of Horatio Nelson, the bas-reliefs at the base commemorating his ships’...

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Naval history

Tom Shippey, 4 June 1998

It’s a hard life these days for a naval historian. His readers, brought up on Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, know all about the technicalities and the...

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Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian, 7 July 1988

All these books are concerned with what the Spaniards once called the Felicissima Armada and what the English still, with a quiet smile, call the Invincible Armada (apparently it was Burleigh who...

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