Catalogue


The glorious First of June : fleet battle in the reign of terror /
Sam Willis.
imprint
London : Quercus, 2011.
description
xlvi, 434 p., [16] p. of plates (chiefly col.) : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
ISBN
1849160384, 9781849160384
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
London : Quercus, 2011.
isbn
1849160384
9781849160384
catalogue key
8242160
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
France, early summer, 1794. The French Revolution has been hijacked by the extreme Jacobins and is in the grip of the Terror. While the guillotine relentlessly takes the heads of the innocents, two vast French and British fleets meet in the mid-Atlantic. The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming 'La Republique ou la mort!' are escorting an American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, are bent on destroying it. The ensuing clash would swiftly become known as the hardest-fought battle of the Age of Sail. Both sides claimed victory. For the French, it represented a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In purely numerical terms 'the Glorious First of June' was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than a century: 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded - ten per cent of their entire maritime workforce. In The Glorious First of June, Sam Willis not only tells, with immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he places it within the context of the Terror, the survival of the French Revolution and the development of both British and French sea-power in this critical period before the rise of Nelson and Napoleon. Using countless new sources, the human experience and cost of the battle in both Britain and France is described in fascinating detail. The Glorious First of June is the last in the Hearts of Oak trilogy and, like The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, is a thrilling account of the Great Age of Sail by one of our most exciting young historians.
Reviews
Review Quotes
'brilliantly described and analysed ... another truly fine book, perhaps the best yet ... one of the most important contributions to naval historiography of 2011 and is very highly recommended' Navy News.
'It is a journey not soon forgotten' Pirates and Privateers.
'one of the things that makes Willis such a joy to read is the blazing clarity of his explanations. By the time you've finished his book you'll appreciate every nuance of naval tactics' Mail on Sunday.
'Those who would attempt to explain a great battle at sea in the age of sail need salt water in their veins, and a skilled pen. In this marvellous book Dr Sam Willis proves that he has both' BBC History Magazine.
'With a great gift for making complex events exceptionally clear, and an authentically salty understanding of the workings of wind, sea, sail and rig ... this [is a] brilliant and subtly nuanced account of the battle' Sunday Times.
'staggeringly rich in detail, well-researched and with prose so finely crafted' Warships International Fleet Review.
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
On 1 June 1794, after a week of skirmishing, the French and British fleets came to close quarters in the northwest Atlantic, some 400 miles off the coast of Brittany. No battle had ever been fought so far from land. The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming 'la R publique ou la mort!' were escorting a American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, were bent on destroying the battle fleet of the nascent French Republic. Both sides would claim victory in the ensuing batt≤ and both had reason to do so. For the French, 'le combat de prairial' was a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In numerical terms 'the Glorious First of June' was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than 100 years: 6 French ships were captured and another sunk; 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded - 10% of their entire maritime workforce. These were physical blows from which the French navy would never truly recover. In The Glorious First of June Sam Willis not only tells, with thrilling immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he also explains its critical importance for the development of British naval tactics and the concomitant growth of British sea-power. For it was in this battle that Lord Howe experimented successfully with the sophisticated line-breaking manoeuvres which, finessed and perfected by Horatio Nelson, would bring Britain to the apogee of its maritime supremacy with the defeat of Napoleon just 11 years later. With The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, The Glorious First of June forms part of 'The Hearts of Oak trilogy' of scholarly but accessible histories that, between them, encapsulate Britain's maritime achievement during the age of sail.
Main Description
On 1 June 1794, after a week of skirmishing, the French and British fleets came to close quarters in the northwest Atlantic, some 400 miles off the coast of Brittany. No battle had ever been fought so far from land. The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming 'la R_publique ou la mort!' were escorting a American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, were bent on destroying the battle fleet of the nascent French Republic. Both sides would claim victory in the ensuing battle; and both had reason to do so. For the French, 'le combat de prairial' was a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In numerical terms 'the Glorious First of June' was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than 100 years: 6 French ships were captured and another sunk; 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded - 10% of their entire maritime workforce. These were physical blows from which the French navy would never truly recover. In The Glorious First of June Sam Willis not only tells, with thrilling immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he also explains its critical importance for the development of British naval tactics and the concomitant growth of British sea-power. For it was in this battle that Lord Howe experimented successfully with the sophisticated line-breaking manoeuvres which, finessed and perfected by Horatio Nelson, would bring Britain to the apogee of its maritime supremacy with the defeat of Napoleon just 11 years later. With The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, The Glorious First of June forms part of 'The Hearts of Oak trilogy' of scholarly but accessible histories that, between them, encapsulate Britain's maritime achievement during the age of sail.
Main Description
On 1 June 1794, after a week of skirmishing, the French and British fleets came to close quarters in the northwest Atlantic, some 400 miles off the coast of Brittany. No battle had ever been fought so far from land. The French, in ships painted blood-red and bearing banners proclaiming 'la République ou la mort!' were escorting a American grain convoy to Brest to feed a starving population; the British, under the command of Lord Howe, a radical innovator and tactical genius, were bent on destroying the battle fleet of the nascent French Republic. Both sides would claim victory in the ensuing battle; and both had reason to do so. For the French, 'le combat de prairial' was a strategic success since the convoy and its precious cargo made it safely through. But this outcome came at a heavy material cost. In numerical terms 'the Glorious First of June' was the greatest British naval victory over her oldest enemy for more than 100 years: 6 French ships were captured and another sunk; 4,200 French sailors were killed and 3,300 wounded - 10% of their entire maritime workforce. These were physical blows from which the French navy would never truly recover. In The Glorious First of June Sam Willis not only tells, with thrilling immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he also explains its critical importance for the development of British naval tactics and the concomitant growth of British sea-power. For it was in this battle that Lord Howe experimented successfully with the sophisticated line-breaking manoeuvres which, finessed and perfected by Horatio Nelson, would bring Britain to the apogee of its maritime supremacy with the defeat of Napoleon just 11 years later. With The Fighting Temeraire and The Admiral Benbow, The Glorious First of June forms part of 'The Hearts of Oak trilogy' of scholarly but accessible histories that, between them, encapsulate Britain's maritime achievement during the age of sail.
Back Cover Copy
'Never had two fleets met in those, or indeed in any seas, more resolutely determined to conquer, or to die'
Bowker Data Service Summary
In 'The Glorious First of June' Sam Willis not only tells, with thrilling immediacy and masterly clarity, the gripping story of an epic and complex battle, he also explains its critical importance for the development of British naval tactics and the concomitant growth of British sea-power.

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