For those who have read Rif Winfield's series British Warships in the Age of Sail, this new work on French warships will have a familiar feel, and as the later period covered by the book covers the introduction of steam he is aided by Stephen S Roberts. It starts with an historical overview of the French Navy during the main periods of control, the Royal period, the revolutionary government. Napoleonic era and post war. There is also a section on the naval dockyards with maps and a brief history of Naval operations.
The main body of the book has a chapter for each class of vessel, starting with the three deckers, subdivided into periods starting with those vessels already in service in 1786. These sections have a brief introduction and then a detailed history of each ship and it's design, including changes such as conversion to steam in it's later career, and there are some illustrations and ships plans.
Whilst the names of many of the larger ships will be well known the bulk of a navy is of course made up of the smaller ships. To do these vessels justice it is of course necessary to keep the details for all ships fairly brief but this is to some extent helped by grouping ships into their design class.
This comprehensive work is well structured and is an excellent reference work for all those who wish to know more about the French Navy which receives far less attention than it's main rival the Royal Navy. As the cover description says it is possible to form a clear picture of the overall development of French warships in the latter half of the sailing era and into the age of steam when it started to recover from it's wartime losses and through technical innovation and invention produced some of the most advanced ships of the age. Recommended.
Description of: French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786 - 1861
Author: Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts