Wednesday 28 July 2021

Book Review: Favourite of Fortune, Bond, Cowin, Lambert


As ‘one of the most important men on the Quarterdeck of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar’, it might seem odd that we’ve had to wait till now for this fascinating portrait of a hitherto less well-known sailor of the Nelsonian/Napoleonic era. 

This is as much a study of the colourful period as its chief subject, thanks to the latter’s presence at three key battles, Camperdown, Copenhagen and Trafalgar, and his experiences of the many aspects/theatres - from China and the Mediterranean, to the Caribbean tropics, the frozen seas of the Baltic, or the  iceberg strewn North Atlantic coast of Canada - at a time when the Royal Navy, thanks to men like Quilliam, helped Great Britain achieve global superpower status, via maritime dominance. 

The narrative part of the book is just shy of 150 pages, and is augmented by two sections of illustrations, plus several maps (and, always useful for us landlubbers, a glossary!). It’s a quick, easy, gripping and exciting read. And it’s a great credit to the three - yes, three! - authors that it reads very smoothly, like the work of one mind/hand. 

Worried that this was possibly a bit too specialist or obscure, I was very pleasantly surprised by this excellent book. If you find the ‘age of sail’ fascinating, as I do, I’d thoroughly recommend Favourite of Fortune.

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