Last Year’s Best Reads? (Or Self-hosted vs Hosted)

In the past week I’ve been engaged in looking at my statistics… And since the blog moved from being self-hosted to during the year, I had to collate the statistics manually, a task during which I found myself evaluating the pros and cons of…

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HMS Cavalier (Edge)

HMS Cavalier, a World War II destroyer in Chatham Historic Dockyard

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

Posted in response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge: Edge.

Links:O Captain! My Captain by Walt WhitmanThe Fastest Ship in the Fleet - an 18-minute film of the 1971 race between HMS Cavalier and HMS Rapid (Imperial War Museum). No prizes for guessing who won! 
⇒ The service history of HMS Cavalier on

The Novel Life of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain

For me, a good non-fiction book is not one that simply gets its facts right; it also has to read well, like a novel. (Showing my lack of sophistication here.) It helps of course if the author of the non-fiction book has a good subject to work with; and the Royal Navy in the time of the Napoleonic wars certainly makes for a good subject.

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Save the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)

The Pelayo saves the Trinidad in the battle of Cape St Vincent, 1797. Antonio de Brugada’s painting. Source: Wikipedia

Somebody ought to write a biography about Cayetano Valdés in the manner of Stephen Taylor’s Commander. Meaning a good one; a page turner. And I know exactly who this somebody should be: Mr Pérez-Reverte, are you listening?

This sudden desire to read a biography surprised even me; clearly all this reading of history books is having unexpected side-effects. I mean yesterday I sat down in front of the computer and scoured the online bookshops for a biography of Cayetano Valdés. Me! The person who only read two biographies in the last thirty years: The Life of Nelson by Robert Southey a long time ago and Commander by Stephen Taylor very recently indeed. Worse, there seems to be a certain theme developing here: I can’t help noticing that Nelson, Edward Pellew and Cayetano Valdés share one thing in common: they were naval heroes. More or less of the same era too.

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Commander (Or Reading Books on History)

Ever since I read a book about the Trojan War as a child, I enjoyed reading about history. Preferably novels.

Nevertheless, over the years I have sufficiently matured to the point of reading – voluntarily, that is – non-fiction, and some of it was very good. Like Herodotus. Or the Conquest of New Spain. Or when it comes to it, Pepys, although I wouldn’t recommend him to the casual reader, unless much distilled. Let Pepys bury the Parmesan or flee from his wife’s red hot poker in a single volume rather than in the eleven that I’ve got on the shelf.

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