Jack Tar

  • Author Roy and Lesley Adkins
  • Narrator John Telfer
  • Publisher Little, Brown Book Group
  • Run Time 16 hours and 11 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre History, Maritime history.

Listen to a sample

What to expect

‘An enthralling book’ Sunday Telegraph
Fascinating’ Sunday Times

The Royal Navy to which Admiral Lord Nelson sacrificed his life depended on thousands of sailors and marines to man the great wind-powered wooden warships. Drawn from all over Britain and beyond, often unwillingly, these ordinary men made the navy invincible through skill, courage and sheer determination. They cast a long shadow, with millions of their descendants alive today, and many of their everyday expressions, such as ‘skyscraper’ and ‘loose cannon’, continuing to enrich our language. Yet their contribution is frequently overlooked, while the officers became celebrities.

JACK TAR gives these forgotten men a voice in an exciting, enthralling, often unexpected and always entertaining picture of what their life was really like during this age of sail. Through personal letters, diaries and other manuscripts, the emotions and experiences of these people are explored, from the dread of press-gangs, shipwreck and disease, to the exhilaration of battle, grog, prize money and prostitutes.

JACK TAR is an authoritative and gripping account that will be compulsive reading for anyone wanting to discover the vibrant and sometimes stark realities of this wooden world at war.

Critics Review

  • What about the ordinary seamen who risked their lives in the rigging and slept like rats in the hold? Here the Adkinses give them the attention they merit … Having read widely on the subject, the authors have got into the sailors’ lives … an enthralling book

    Sunday Telegraph
  • A full account of life on the lower decks in the late 18th- and early 19th-century navy … Roy and Lesley Adkins bring their world alive … the material is so rich that this is … a fascinating, even occasionally humbling study

    Sunday Times
  • This description of life in Nelson’s Navy needs no narrative adornment. Sailors were expected to fight, and the carnage is impressively described. But in detailing every aspect of their lives … this emerges as a social rather than military history. The rigours they were expected to endure are extraordinary, as is, in its own way, this wonderful history

    The Telegraph
  • If you’ve read the Hornblower novels and Master and Commander, you may think you already know about life with Nelson’s Navy. Jack Tar will make you think again … An extraordinary read

    Daily Mail
  • [A] spirited and unsparing account

    Literary Review
  • Roy and Lesley Adkins possess that rare knack among historians: merging the academic with the narrative and providing a riveting read which also casts light where it is dark … Overall, this is as comprehensive – and lively – an account of the life of Jack Tar as you could hope to find

    Navy News

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