Book Review: The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British and French Navies, 1650-1815


by Jonathan R. Dull

Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. Pp. x, 250. Maps, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN:080321930X

In The Age of the Ship of the Line, Jonathan Dull, author of several notable works on the French Navy in the Age of Fighting Sail, uses the ship-of-the-line as the focus of a comprehensive survey of naval warfare from the mid-seventeenth century through the end of the French wars.

This is not a technical treatise on the battleships of the era, though it does provide a good deal of material on their design and development, necessary to understand the changing nature of war at sea in the period.  Rather, it looks at the political, economic, strategic, and, of course, technical trends in the period that led to the ship-of-the-line becoming the ultimate arbiter of sea power.  While Dull book naturally concentrates on the British and French, who together built more ships-of-the-line than everyone else, he does include appropriate discussion of other navies, notably those of Spain and the Netherlands , as necessary to understand the evolving nature of naval warfare. 

The Age of the Ship of the Line can profitably be read by anyone knowledgeable about the period, as well as by the novice.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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