Publisher description for The mammoth book of life before the mast : an anthology of eye-witness accounts from the age of fighting sail / edited by Jon E. Lewis.

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The stirring firsthand accounts of the real-life naval adventures behind the popular historical sagas of Patrick O'Brian and C. F. Forester. The twenty true-life adventures in this exhilarating volume capture the glory and the gore of the great age of naval warfare. They epitomize that era from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century -- the age of the French Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812 -- when combat at sea was won not by the impersonal power of technology but by sheer human wit, courage, and endurance. Culled from the memoirs, diaries, and letters of celebrated officers as well as common sailors, the collection not only includes exciting accounts of such decisive naval engagements as Admiral Horatio Nelson's on the Battle of the Nile in 1798 or Midshipman Roberts' on the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 but also offers revealing glimpses into the hardships suffered daily aboard a man-of-war: the scurvy, whippings, storms, piracy, press gangs, drudgery, boredom, and cannibalism. Here, too, are the salt spray and grapeshot and bravery, the strategic errors and the thrill of victory. While in fiction many books strive to chronicle or re-create the colorful and heroic Age of Sail, for heart-rending immediacy and poignant truth no words can match those of the English, French, and American men who were there and whose tales make history live on every page of this anthology.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Great Britain. -- Royal Navy -- History -- 18th century.
Great Britain. -- Royal Navy -- History -- 19th century.
France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799 -- Personal narratives, British.
Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815 -- Personal narratives, British.
Great Britain. -- Royal Navy -- Sea life.
France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799 -- Naval operations, British.
Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815 -- Naval operations, British.
Great Britain -- History, Naval -- 19th century -- Sources.
Great Britain -- History, Naval -- 18th century -- Sources.
Naval biography -- Great Britain.