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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Books for Adults - Nonfiction

Cover Art: Royal Tars
Royal Tars: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 875-1850
By Brian Lavery
Naval Institute Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-59114-743-5, US$37.95


When Brian Lavery set out to write about the men who manned the lower deck of British warships, he expected to tell their whole story. The more he delved into the factors influencing how these essential seamen evolved, the more he realized he could not do so in a single volume that included the past all the way to the present.
This first volume discusses this aspect of naval history from the first record of England establishing a navy under King Alfred through the first steam warships and the establishment of training schools for seamen. He divides the material into seven periods:  
  • The Early Seaman, before 1642
  • Civil War and Dutch Wars, 1642 to 1689
  • European War, 1689 to 1739
  • Imperial War, 1739 to 1783
  • The Crisis, 1783 to 1803
  • A Large Fleet in a Long War, 1803 to 1815
  • The Long Peace, 1815 to 1850
Within each chapter, he explores the average seamanís character, skills, daily routine, and his attitudes toward those he served under and the regulations that affected his life. Lavery demonstrates how these men also changed historyís course on occasion, and uses their first-hand accounts, where available, of the battles in which they fought. In addition to the introduction and conclusion, the book includes an appendix (Tracing Naval Ratings), glossary, notes, bibliography, and index. Where appropriate the reader will find maps and diagrams that illustrate various aspects of the material. There are also several sections of drawings and paintings to further enhance the content.
Lavery has produced a readable and compelling account of these men who have often been overlooked, but were essential, to the Royal Navy. The narrative clearly shows the wealth of primary documents and exhaustive research he did to track down this information. Royal Tars not only shows how the lower deck, which did not initially exist, developed, but also dispels the stereotypical description commonly associated with seamen.

Review Copyrighted ©2011 Cindy Vallar

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