Heart of Oak: A Sailor's Life in Nelson's Navy

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The extraordinary photography in this book was inspired by the author's reading of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. In small museums along the English coast, and in private collections, James McGuane has recorded artifacts recovered from shipwrecks and preserved by modern conservation techniques. Taken together, these unique treasures provide a window onto the everyday life of sailors and officers in the Royal Navy of the Napoleonic era.

Thanks to advances in marine archaeology, it is often possible to establish the exact identity of a wrecked warship, along with the date and circumstances of its sinking. We are thus provided with a moment frozen in time: tools, clothing, utensils, weapons, and fragments of the ship itself startlingly intact. These photographs bring home to the reader-as words alone cannot-what a sailor's life in that time was really like.

Also photographed here is Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, proudly preserved at Portsmouth. Victory survived the great fleet action at Trafalgar, where Nelson himself died, and it is still a commissioned ship in the Royal Navy.

~From inside cover flap

192 pages, Hardcover, W. W. Norton & Company; (November 2002)