Friday, July 04, 2008
You'd think, having been in the naval reserve, I'd be all over a book with a ship's captain. Oddly enough, I never have, although I do have a seaman in waiting from KISS ME QUICK and KISS ME AGAIN. Charlie's at sea in A LOVER'S KISS.
Maybe it's because I was in it that I don't find the navy particularly romantic? Maybe I know too much about conditions at sea to find it enticing? Or maybe I just haven't got around to it yet. :-) At any rate, I'm ready with the following books:
WAR AT SEA IN THE AGE OF SAIL by Andrew Lambert
CROSS-SECTIONS: MAN-OF-WAR by Stephen Biesty
EYEWITNESS BOOKS: THE VISUAL DICTIONARY OF SHIPS AND SAILING
THE WORLD OF JACK AUBREY: Twelve-pounders, Frigates, Cutlasses, and Insignia of His Majesty's Royal Navy by David Miller (Jack Aubrey is the hero of Patrick O'Brien's books)
SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS: The Story of British Sea Power by David Howarth
THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SHIPS AND BOATS by Graham Blackburn (I tell ya, if you wanna know what kind of ship or boat you need, this one's for you! Small, large, current or historical.)
I also have THE VOYAGE OF THE ARMADA by David Howarth
Here are some things I recall from my navy days:
Ship's toilets are called "heads" because crewman used to have to hang off the bow to, you know, while holding onto ropes so they wouldn't fall. Only their heads would show above the rail.
An earring meant you'd survived a shipwreck.
The most important people on a ship are the bosun and the bosun's mate. Not surprisingly, this bit of information came from a bosun.
Up spirits - time for the rum ration. 11 a.m. (yep, the morning.)
Make and mends - get the ship ship-shape, then paaaaarty!
And because the British navy makes me think of hard times and harsh punishments, here are two other books in my library:
OLD TIME PUNISHMENTS by William Andrews
LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER: An Unashamed Look at Hangmen, Headsmen, and Their Kind by Howard Engel. (Engel is a notable Canadian mystery writer, so this book is both interesting and fast-paced. Who knew so much calculation was required for a hangman's rope to ensure the convicted died quickly, of a broken neck, rather than slow strangulation?)
I also found DISEASE AND HISTORY by Frederick F. Cartwright in collaboration with Michael D. Biddiss
and HORRIBLE HISTORIES: The Vile Victorians by Terry Deary
WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU ABOUT HISTORY: Hundreds of Peculiar and Fascinating Facts by Tim Wood and Ian Dicks (Here's one: Blackbeard the pirate had 15 wives. There's just something about a captain, I guess.)