Storm and Conquest The Battle for the Indian Ocean, 1808-10

Review :

A must-read for readers interested in the naval theaters of the napoleonic wars.

This lovely volume sheds light on not only on life aboard Georgian naval ships, the conquest of Mauritius, and the Barlow government in Madras, but mainly on dozens of fascinating facets of the East Indiamen of the time. The book goes into detail both about shipboard life as well as the trading ships' importance to Britain's economy and her war efforts.

The first part of this book follows two fleets of Indiamen each through a perfect storm and is full of both the depiction of personal drama as well as enthralling and terrifying insight on the struggle of these massive ships in a tropical storm.

The second part focuses on the many aborted attempts of the British to take Mauritius away from France and the complicated formation of the assault that would, finally, succeed, and whose seeds are in this book traced back to the troubles of the Indiamen caught in the storms.

This book sets up its narrative not quite unlike a novel, introducing ships and historical figures we would encounter before getting to the action and into the fascinating details about life aboard Indiamen. It does a fantastic job of highlighting the connections of its large cast with each other and the events that would unfold from their decisions, all the while bringing historical figures like Matthew Flinders and Admiral Pellew to life, as if they were taken from a novel.

Even though the book is written in a more journalistic than scholarly style, it fortunately features an extensive bibliography and helpful footnotes.

As I read the Kindle edition I was only able to enjoy the photos in black and white, and it's a shame that you don't have an option to enlarge the maps at all. Even though jumping between footnotes is certainly easier in the eBook edition, the photos and maps recommend the printed editions.

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