Ever since Alfred the Great created the first English fleet, the rulers and sailors of the British Isles have fended off foreign invasion, protected trade routes, maintained an empire, and projected power at sea both in home waters and across the globe. The Royal Navy reached its apogee in the century after Trafalgar, when Britannia ruled the world's waves as the supreme maritime hegemon. That power was challenged by Germany and slowly overhauled by the US but achieved its final glorious hurrah in the Second World War. These two books record and celebrate the Navy's finest hour since Nelson, before our naval traditions went the way of rum, sodomy and the lash, dribbling down to David Cameron's sad apology for a fighting fleet today.
Glyn Prysor's Citizen Sailors claims to be the first modern general history of the senior service's role in Hitler's war. It is certainly true that land campaigns such as North Africa and Normandy, and the Battle of Britain, have been exhaustively chronicled. Prysor's book, then, is to be