Essays in Naval History, from Medieval to Modern
Hattendorf, John B., Naval War College Review
NOT JUST A BRITISH POINT OF VIEW Rodger, N. A. M. Essays in Naval History, from Medieval to Modern. Variorum Collected Studies Series. Surrey, U.K., and Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2009. 346pp. $135.90
N. A. M. Rodger is well known around the world as Britain's foremost naval historian and the author of the threevolume A Naval History of Britain, currently in progress. He is an author whose writing is always a pleasure to read, and a volume of his collected essays is a welcome addition to the literature. Like other such collections, these essays were previously published in either specialist academic journals, other volumes, or other languages. They range in date of original publication from 1988 to 2004 and provide a range of themes that expand in detail upon aspects that Rodger has also simultaneously been dealing with in his multivolume history in a more summary manner. Thus it is of particular value to have these pieces brought together where they can be easily found, even though some specialists may have already read them. However, the highly worthy object of bringing such essays together in a single volume has been largely thwarted by the publisher, whose insistence on selling the books in this series at such high prices has made it impractical for most interested readers to buy them. The publisher's practice of maintaining the original typography and page numbering is also disputable. This reviewer certainly prefers the alternative of revised essays, newly set in a consistent typeface to create an even more cohesive and useful work. To his credit, however, Rodger has made brief additional comments on many of the pieces in light of more recent scholarship; also, this volume includes a general index.
Like the author's multivolume history, the seventeen essays collected here all reflect the laudable view that naval history is not a backwater of specialist interest but rather a central theme in general history, both British and global. The works cover a selection of interesting topics that range over ten centuries of naval history. While written from a consciously British point of view, they are founded in a much broader context. As the author writes in his preface, "I do not consider that naval history can ever be written from a narrowly national standpoint. …