Recent Posts

Carmarthenshire Archives: Farce or Greek Tragedy?

06/07/2015

A warning: if you’re in search of a short and cheerful read, I suggest you leave this post now and click on something like Buzzfeed instead. On the other hand, if you have a few minutes to spare to read a woeful tale of institutional failure, threatening access to – and the very existence of […]

The Lost Journal of Captain Greenvile Collins, Part 2

22/06/2015

On 22 May the English ships anchored off Tenedos, which ‘lyeth right opposite the vast Ruines of old Troy’. Collins provided a long, detailed description of the island and its people, commenting in particular (as he often did in Mediterranean ports) on the merits of the local wines. He soon discovered that the ‘vast ruines’ […]

The Lost Journal of Captain Greenvile Collins, Part 1

15/06/2015

This is the first part of an article that I wrote in the early 1990s, and which, for one reason or another, never made it to its intended home in an academic journal. I originally published it on my old website, but re-posting it in the blog seemed to be a better way of bringing […]

Annus Mirabilis: Or, a Very Good Time for 17th Century Naval History

08/06/2015

This is turning into something of an annus mirabilis for we few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters), who nail our tattered colours to the rickety mast of seventeenth century naval history. Next month, on 4 July, there’s what promises to be a fascinating day at Hastings under the auspices of the splendid Shipwreck […]

The Shortening of Sail After the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

03/06/2015

To mark the 350th anniversary of the battle, I’ve been tweeting the key events at the appropriate times during the day. However, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the battle doesn’t lend itself readily to Twitter. After destroying the Dutch flagship during the day’s action – a brief description of which can be found here […]

Palermo: Twinned with Accrington

01/06/2015

We spent the week before last on holiday in Sicily, mainly on the west side of the island, but with a couple of days in the east so we could go up Mount Etna. Here are a few impressions, primarily of the history… If, as Alan Bennett rightly observed, ‘history is just one f*****g thing […]

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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