MEN OF WAR: COURAGE UNDER FIRE IN THE 19TH CENTURY NAVY David Crane HHHH wTHE original title for this book would perhaps have been more apt.
Rather than 'courage under fire' it was the 'changing face of heroism' in the 19th Ccentury Navy.
A superbly researched work, this utilises contemporary accounts, private letters and official navy to look at the careers of three officers.
The first, Frank Abney Hastings, is the most interesting. In the search for glory, action and battle after being sacked in disgrace over a row with superiors, he ended up commanding a steam ship in the defence of Greece - a strange end for a Royal Navy officer.
The author builds a powerful case that Hastings transformed sea warfare in the age. Certainly his success in the hitherto untested steam boat, using the latest in firepower, made the world sit up and take note.
Prime Minister Robert Peel's son William and his glittering career had its defining moments on land, although he was a naval man, taking part in the horror of the Crimean war and tackling the Indian mutiny. …