Recent Posts

For Whom the Nell Tolls

08/02/2016

A bit of culture at the weekend, namely an outing to the Saturday matinee of Nell Gwynn at the wonderfully ornate Apollo Theatre in London’s West End. I’d read the reviews of this when it premiered at the Globe last autumn, but we failed to secure tickets for it then. Written by Jessica Swale, the play makes […]

Highways and Byways of the Seventeenth Century: the Prince of Transylvania

01/02/2016

Time for another in my (very) occasional series of oddities and little-known tales that I’ve stumbled across during the course of my research. Actually, though, this was one that I came across during my teaching career, my ‘day job’ for thirty or so years. Back in 1987, I took up a new post at Bedford […]

Samuel Pepys versus The Incredible Hulk

25/01/2016

Don’t make me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Or, alternatively, it is a truth universally acknowledged that those who get outraged by things on Twitter are in need of a life. Having said that, occasionally one sees something on Twitter which is so staggeringly crass that the metaphorical shirt-ripping (but, of course, […]

Blind Spot

12/01/2016

There was an interesting thread on Twitter a couple of days ago which attempted to pinpoint the first use of the term ‘sea blindness’, referring to the perceived ignorance of the sea and maritime affairs in modern Britain. This got me thinking about some of the other ramifications of the term, and about the potential […]

The Beast, You Say? No, Sorry, Wrong Number

04/01/2016

Happy New Year, everybody! And what an anniversary-rich year it promises to be, even in comparison with 2015 and 2014. The World War I commemorations will include the poignant centenaries of the Somme and Jutland; I hope to be involved in, or at least a witness to, some of the latter, and will report back […]

Dead Haddock Society

17/12/2015

Well, yes, it’s really another instalment in my ‘Dead Admirals Society’ occasional series, but I couldn’t resist… One of the great joys of working on seventeenth century naval history is that one deals on a daily basis with some truly outstanding names; and if you don’t believe me, all I have to say to you […]

Reviews

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MOUNTBATTEN MARITIME LITERARY AWARD, 2014

…it is perhaps deceptively easy for the uninformed to pass over the enormous contribution that Wales and the Welsh people have made to the story of British naval mastery over the years. Equally, the massive extent to which naval affairs and their influences have impacted profoundly on the lives of the Welsh people and on the country at large. is not at all as well understood as it very much ought to be, either in Wales or elsewhere in these islands. Well, J D Davies’s splendid new book will do much to correct the facile view that the maritime heritage of Wales is only about labouring tramp steamers…and it is therefore much to be welcomed, for it deals with a history and an experience of Welsh seafaring that has never hitherto been properly recounted.

The writer…takes the reader on a marvellous passage through 2000 years of Welsh seafaring endeavour…Handling a complex array of diverse and complicated sources with an enviable facility and writing in a polished prose which does justice to the depth and significance of this history, this is essentially a book about opening doors and windows and letting the light into a subject that has been unfairly neglected and largely ignored for too long, and that makes it a most valuable contribution to scholarship in modern naval history which can be strongly recommended. And a fine one it is… It will be clear I hope that your reviewer thinks this is a good and important book, but whether or not it will succeed other than modestly in shifting the trajectory of Welsh maritime history towards a deeper engagement with the naval dimension of the country’s sea history is, I think, likely to remain a matter of conjecture for a time yet. – Dr Campbell McMurray, Maritime Wales

 

Reviews of ‘Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales’

WINNER OF THE SAMUEL PEPYS PRIZE AND LATHAM MEDAL, 2009

‘You will want to give this book to your favourite armchair seadog’ – James Srodes in The Washington Times

‘This superb book…not only an impressive technical publication to satisfy the dedicated researcher, it is also a jolly good read for the enthusiast’ – The Nautical Magazine

‘[A] magnificent and superbly illustrated volume’ – Professor Eric Grove in Navy News

‘This superb book…well written…beautifully illustrated throughout…this outstanding book is also very good value for money. Highly recommended’ – Marine News

‘Outstanding analysis’ – The Oxford Times

‘This great vade mecum…the research embodied in this work is excellent…no student of the late seventeenth century navy can afford to be without this admirable compilation’ – Professor David Loades in The Mariner’s Mirror

‘A book which should be in the bookcase of every student of Royal  Naval history…the author deserves huge congratulations for the expertise and knowledge so well recorded in this superb book’ – David Clement in South West Soundings

‘Fantastically detailed and comprehensive…an absolute must for anyone with an interest in the sailing navy’ – Janet Dempsey in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

Reviews of ‘Pepys’s Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-89’

PRAISE FOR ‘THE JOURNALS OF MATTHEW QUINTON’

Great naval fiction…Hornblower, Aubrey and Quinton – a pantheon of the best adventures at sea – Conn Iggulden

Exciting, emotive and utterly convincing, the Quinton Journals lead the field in naval historical fiction – Sam Willis, TV presenter and author of Fighting Ships, The Fighting Temeraire, The Admiral Benbow & The Glorious First of June

Finely shaded characters, excellent plotting, gut-clenching action and immaculate attention to period naval detail…these are superb books – Angus Donald, author of ‘The Outlaw Chronicles’

A splendid addition to nautical adventure, and a grand story, to boot!—Dewey Lambdin, author of the Alan Lewrie series of novels

J D Davies’s depiction of Restoration England and the British navy is impeccable, his characters truly live and breathe, and the plot kept me in suspense. Gentleman Captain is one of the rare books that I have read with a smile on my face from cover to cover. I could not recommend it more. — Edward Chupack, author of Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder

A beautifully written and masterfully told story…an excellent book, well researched, well written and thoroughly enjoyable…terrific characters, a thrilling adventure, and a wonderful sense of time and place…a delightful tale… a naval adventure that goes well beyond the usual outlines of the genre to paint a lively portrait of England in the 1600s…these are superb books…the best series of historical fiction I’ve ever read – From various reviews of the series

Reviews of ‘The Journals of Matthew Quinton’
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