Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
The 1779 battle between Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis at Flamborough Head was one where history and legend entwined to dwarf actions involving more ships and significant action. This famous battle of the American Revolution became a symbol for the Americans – resolute, determined, and willing to press forward regardless of the odds – and the British – indefatigable and devoted to duty. Within these pages, Lardas examines the ships, their captains, and the battle. Even though Richard Pearson eventually surrendered, he did so only after he accomplished his mission, protecting a convoy of merchant ships, and a second enemy warship came to John Paul Jones’ aid.
There are seven chapters in this slim volume. “Design and Development” discusses naval architecture of the 1700s, with pertinent information about Indiamen in general and Bonhomme Richard in particular, and two-decker warships in general and HMS Serapis in particular. “The Strategic Situation” summarizes the war and events that impacted this fateful meeting. “Technical Specifications” examines the structure, armament, and sails and rigging, while “The Combatants” focuses on the men, the officers, and the marines. The beginning of each ship’s cruise, the opening stages of battle, and the battle itself are covered in “Combat.” “Statistics and Analysis” looks at who had what advantages and the difference between what’s on paper and the raw numbers. The final chapter, “Aftermath and Conclusion,” covers what happened after the surrender, how it affected other countries’ decisions in entering the war, and what happened to the captains and ships following their battle off the Yorkshire coast.
The book is filled with illustrations in color and in black and white; each includes a caption to clearly identify what is shown. Highlighted diagrams and inserts provide additional information on the vessels, copper bottoms, great guns, hand weapons, press gangs, biographies on the captains, quarterdeck views from both ships, and Paul Jones the Pyrate. Color maps delineate the vessels’ movement. Also included are a bibliography, an index, and a chronology of the captains and the ships, which encapsulates on two pages the high points found within the book. It begins in 1731 with Pearson’s birth and concludes in 1806, when he died.
This is a thorough, yet concise and very readable account of this battle. Lardas provides a plethora of information without getting bogged down in complicated, nautical details and language. It’s an excellent introduction for anyone who wants to know about this event, and provides readers with sufficient background knowledge to allow them to read and understand more in-depth accounts.
Review Copyrighted ©2013 Cindy Vallar
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