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Tide of Empires: Volume Two

This is the second of an intended four-volume history of the naval campaigns through which the western European nations rose to dominate the world. It opens with Amsterdam as trading and financial capital of the world and England poised to strike from her position across Dutch sea routes. The epic sea battles of the Anglo-Dutch wars lead to a triangular contest between the English and Dutch and France under the 'Sun King', Louis IV, concluding with England's triumph. Peter Padfield's character studies and battle descriptions are as vivid as in the first volume, and the narrative is similarly driven by his stark view of the rise of the West as a remorseless struggle for the markets of the world during which naval, trading and financial strength fuse into an irresistible force propelling nations to world power while transforming the very nature of society: as it was put in a popular English song of 1759, 'who is so free as we sons of the waves?'


‘This second volume more than fulfils the promise of the first. It is well-written, clear and concise... The narratives of the naval campaigns and battles from the Second Dutch War to the end of the Seven Years War are excellent, taking due account of the evolution of naval and gunnery tactics... This book should appeal to a wide readership; it is an instructive and pleasant book.’ - British Book News

‘Mr Padfield is that rarest of hybrids – a historian who can really write. His battle descriptions are eloquent to the point of poetry... But this book is as well researched as it is good history, demonstrating an impressive familiarity with the esoteric technicalities of warfare in the age of sail and a capacity to put the whole subject into a wider historical context.’ - The Journal of Strategic Studies

Peter Padfield’s second volume... lives up completely to the very high standards set by the first... The author describes the naval campaigns and battles themselves with all the technical expertise and readability that he demonstrated in his first volume. This time he also depicts the vital role played by the capital markets... We await the third and fourth volumes of this excellent history with impatience.’ - The Diplomatist

‘Padfield’s canvas is wide and deep... he manages to put naval warfare into a brilliant perspective unsullied by the ‘repel boarders’ school of naval history... Padfield should be read by all who want to know how the West got to where it is, and by those who worry where it is going.’ - The Scotsman

‘Padfield brings to [naval actions] the sense and senses of a practical seaman, together with an unrivalled knowledge of old naval gunnery. Judging by some powerful evocations of the gun deck in action, his novelist’s imagination is also put to some purpose, although there is never any doubt of his rigorous study of conflicting evidence in pursuit of satisfying explanations...’ - Times literary Supplement

‘Padfield’s historic reach is truly impressive. This reviewer doubts if anything better exists in English... in terms of scholarship, thoroughness and just plain readability.’ - Choice, Chicago

‘Mr Padfield underpins his stimulating analysis of the various sea battles with a frequent reference to the role of economic trends and commercial interests.’ - The Economist

‘His major qualities as a historian, his capacity for vivid narrative description of not only battles, but other events and the people and personalities involved. This narrative is made the more dramatic by the author’s mastery of such matters as gunnery, the economics of mast timber supply, and the effect of these on vital decisions. The result is a very readable account of one of the more eventful centuries in British history, and one which still maintains scholarly standards.’ - Lloyd’s List

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