“The Struggle for Sea Power – The Royal Navy vs The World, 1775-1782”, by Sam Willis 2015

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I came across this in my local library and promptly devoured it. Later, I got around to buying my own copy – I really like it. The quotation on the front end pages is from Melville of Moby Dick fame, an absolutely fantastic book. And this book is pretty good, too – a tight date range which is always nice and a heroic theme backed up by good quality prose.


There are illustrations, I’d like to see more but then I’m a bit greedy…

Actually, the point of this book is the way it brings together a lot of information, and then shows it from the standpoint of a global admiral, you know – what country had how many of these there and when and why?!

Anyway, all very interesting and pretty good reading. So much of the stuff I’ve come across on this topic has been from Great Britain’s point of view that it’s refreshing to see things more from the stance of the emerging USA.

Global perspective, c. 1790

There was a lot going on back then and this book is able to provide a real context for later events encompassing the Napoleonic War Period.

It also covers a time prior to the initial settling of Australia by the English, giving us a comprehensive backgound in which to view the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Australia was a last resort and thereafter considered a backwater, but there are no surprises there – the European powers of the time were jockeying for position and the various colonies had to take their chances…


The structure of the text and there’s quite a lot of it, something over 450 pages of writing, is well thought out and there are accompanying maps – which is wonderful.

I learned a lot from reading this book and for me it’s definitely a keeper, not exactly light reading – but a valuable addition to my library in any case.

Naturally I would highly recommend owning a copy as part of your reference library because there’s truth in that old adage ‘Best to buy the book before you buy the coin’!

Happy Collecting!

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