Description - The Line Upon a Wind by Noel Mostert
In February 1793 France declared war on Britain and Holland and by 1815, established dynasties and kingdoms were overthrown, the United States had been established as a world power and a new age was dawning. This was to be the longest, hardest and cruellest war ever fought at sea and while the war on land saw the rise of the greatest soldier ever known - Napoleon Buonaparte - the war at sea had the formidable genius of Horatio Nelson. In The Line Upon A Wind, Noel Mostert has achieved a work of unparalleled research and illuminating analysis. He has also brought us the story of the daily lives of the sailors on board the fighting ships. There are heroes and villains, captains so harsh that crews were goaded to mutiny and others whose concern for the welfare of their crews changed life at sea forever. It is a tale of ordinary men and extraordinary bravery, of the building and navigation of fearsome warships and of a period of tumultuous conflict, change and innovation - maritime history at its very best.
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(198mm x 129mm x 33mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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Book Reviews - The Line Upon a Wind by Noel Mostert
US Kirkus Review »
An exhaustive look at the epic sea battles that constituted the first truly world war. Mostert (Frontiers: The Epic of South Africa's Creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa Peo, 1992, etc.) provides a staggeringly thorough examination of the centuries-long buildup to the formidable navies created by Britain and France, which ultimately clashed in devastating battles led by Admiral Horatio Nelson and Napoleon. Given the aggressive maneuvers of the Russian Empire in the Baltic and the French Republic in practically every other body of water, the Royal Navy in 1793 had to speed up its readiness for war. It did this by chopping down England's glorious oak forests to make ships and impressing unwilling men to sail them. Mostert follows the ensuing naval battles in this spiraling "Great War" (as it was then named) during the next 22 years. It opened with the British-French collision at Toulon, which brought Nelson and Napoleon into unwitting close proximity. The decisive Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 saved England from invasion but felled the legendary Nelson. The finale came with the naval clashes between American and British forces on Lake Champlain and outside New Orleans during the War of 1812. Mostert's account is no bludgeoning litany of military maneuvers, but a vast, impressive canvas of the era's dynastic squabbles, economic imperatives and political goals, all pursued by epic personalities. He dwells with special admiration on Nelson's complex character and Napoleon's military genius. Routine life onboard ship, mutiny, disease, homosexuality and flogging are among the relevant topics also addressed. In the end, Mostert demonstrates skillfully that the Great War was a global conflict deployed across all oceans and most seas, notable for such innovations as the torpedo and submarine, that ultimately proclaimed the ascendance of both the Royal Navy and the United States. Ambitious, sweeping and painstakingly delineated. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Noel Mostert
Noel Mostert is the author of the acclaimed Frontiers (1992). He is Canadian, born in Cape Town. He served as military correspondent with Canadian forces in Europe and was United Nations correspondent for the Montreal Star, based in New York with a roving international assignment. He has contributed journalism and short stories to numerous American publications and is the recipient of several awards for his writing, including Columbia University's National Magazine Award for articles in the New Yorker. He lives in Tangier.