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The Age of the Ship of the LineThe Age of the Ship of the Line

The British and French Navies, 1650-1815

Jonathan R. Dull

Narrated by James McSorley

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Nebraska Press

For nearly two hundred years huge wooden warships called “ships of the line” dominated war at sea and were thus instrumental in the European struggle for power and the spread of imperialism. Foremost among the great naval powers were Great Britain and France, whose advanced economies could support large numbers of these expensive ships. This book, the first joint history of these great navies, offers a uniquely impartial and comprehensive picture of the two forces—their shipbuilding programs, naval campaigns, and battles, and their wartime strategies and diplomacy.

Jonathan R. Dull is the author of two award-winning histories of the French navy. Bringing to bear years of study of war and diplomacy, his book conveys the fine details and the high drama of the age of grand and decisive naval conflict. Dull delves into the seven wars that Great Britain and France, often in alliance with lesser naval powers such as Spain and the Netherlands, fought between 1688 and 1815. Viewing war as most statesmen of the time saw it—as a contest of endurance—he also treats the tragic side of the Franco-British wars, which shattered the greater security and prosperity the two powers enjoyed during their brief period as allies.

Jonathan R. Dull is the retired senior associate editor of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin series. His award-winning histories include The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787 and The French Navy and the Seven Years’ War.


“As always, in discussing the warfare of the period, Dull displays an easy mastery of diplomatic history. Long out of fashion, it is a wonderful aid to comprehension. Along the way he offers several shrewd insights into the success of the British and the failure of the French.... This wonderful synthesis is both a handy primer for students seeking an introduction to naval warfare in the age of sail and an insightful overview containing shrewd observations for those who study these conflicts in detail.... The book is highly recommended for anyone interested in gaining a balanced overview of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century naval warfare in the age of the sail.”

Northern Mariner

“Jonathan Dull is a supreme naval historian.”

—Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery

“Among the great strengths of this book are its clear, vivid prose and the quality of its scholarship. Dull writes with flair and is capable of condensing large amounts of information on events, ideas, and personalities into a lucid, well-organized narrative. While Dull has crafted his account largely from secondary sources, he has drawn on some of today's best scholarship in military, naval, diplomatic, political, and economic history published in several languages, including English, French, and Spanish.”

Naval History

“Dull offers an excellent introduction to the Anglo-French Wars of 1650-1815 in this tour de force.”


“Dull explains the role of French and British ships of the line in the outcome of these wars in a way that has never been done before, and that is a magnificent achievement and an important historiographical marker for all naval historians.”

Journal of Military History

Age of the Ship of the Line will be an invaluable guide to the serious scholar who wishes to enter further the labyrinthine politics of Western Europe in the long eighteenth century.... The book is admirably produced and will endure as a source of reference.”

International Journal of Maritime History

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks