Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Books: A Manual for Victory

HMS Victory, arguably the most famous man-of-war built during the Georgian era, didn’t come with an operating manual. The iron men who sailed her didn’t need one. They knew what they were up to, certainly almost to a man, and gave her life through the work of their muscles and bones. She was and is a remarkable vessel, and to some degree a shrine. It was upon her deck and in her orlop that the immortal Horatio Nelson saw victory – and death – and Trafalgar.

All that said, a guide to owning and maintaining HMS Victory couldn’t hurt, even at this late date. That is exactly what author Peter Goodwin and Haynes Publishing Group came out with on February 4th: the first ever fully illustrated and impeccably accurate guide to one of the oldest and most iconic sailing ships in the world.

As noted in the press release from Haynes:

With the aid of specially commissioned photographs and an authoritative narrative, the reader is taken below decks to discover the innermost workings of the warship. There are chapters on how to sail an 18th century man-of-war, gunnery and tactics, and the [$2.5 million] conservation program that will ensure she continues to be a top visitor attraction well into the 21st century.

The book, as noted, was written by Peter Goodwin who is a former Royal Navy marine engineer and an expert on sailing and ships of Nelson’s navy. Fans of the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World will be familiar with Goodwin’s expertise; he was an advisor on technical points during production and post-production of the film.

The book is available online at an extremely reasonable $23.73 U.S. It really is a must-have for anyone interested in any of the subjects which, throughout history, have touched the beautiful HMS Victory.

Finally as an aside, and with no offence intended to the British Brethren, the press release notes Victory is “the world’s oldest commissioned warship.” In fact, she is the world’s oldest commissioned warship not actively sailing. The oldest commissioned warship still on the high seas is USS Constitution. I’m splitting hairs, perhaps, but it is a small matter of pride for those of us who have some connection to the U.S. Navy which, in all fairness, is the daughter of the Royal Navy.

Header: HMS Victory In Battle by Chris N. Wood via Artists Harbour


Timmy! said...

Ahoy, Pauline! While the book's title seems slightly misleading to me (I doubt that they are really going to tell you how you can own this ship...) the book itself does seem to be a pretty good deal.

Pauline said...

Well, no it doesn't; plus the Admiralty probably wouldn't be down with any of us moving it away from Pompey. That said, what a cool book. It's on my wish list!