Brian Lavery is an excellent historian and naval architect; were he to write a laundry list, it would be well worth the read, and this subject has clearly caught his imagination. The actual history of the ship is well documented, with numerous asides and short diversions that certainly fill in the gaps. There is also a section on the O'Brian ship, noting difference to the original. Lavery includes detailed crew lists, as well as crew history, and a lot of detail about the day to day organisation; the watch system, messing arrangements as well as some social history. All fascinating, although the very large format does make reading a little cumbersome!
Where the generous sizing really comes into its own, is in the illustrations. Geoff Hunt is well known for his nautical art, and for the O'Brian covers in particular (in addition to many works by other authors). His art work is superb; detailed, accurate, and absorbing, they bring the ship and the times to life and are an excellent accompaniment to Lavery's text. One chapter details the plans for each of the O'Brian covers; something that hardly sounds inspiring, although I have read it twice, and the book only arrived three days ago.
This really is a must have for anyone interested in O'Brian, and the sailing navy in general.
Description of: The Frigate Surprise
Author: Brian Lavery and Geoff Hunt