Brian Lavery - Maritime History Expert

Classic & Recent Books

Brian is the author of more than thirty books on many different aspects of British and world maritime history.

The Ship of The Line

The Ship of the Line

(2 vols, 1983-4)

A history of the British sailing battlefleet.
An impressive, and in some respects, unique contribution to the story of British sea power in the age of sail.
Professor Glyndwr Williams

Nelson's Navy


A complete guide to the most successful fleet of its day. Constantly in print for more than 30 years.

A masterpiece on life in the Senior Service under England’s favourite seafaring son.
The Times

Nelson and the Nile


The story of the campaign which led to Nelson’s first battle in command, and his closest confrontation with Napoleon Bonaparte.
If one had to choose just one book on Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars, this would be it.
Peter Stanford, founding editor Sea History



A highly illustrated guide to the ships of the world throughout history. Translated into many languages.

Very informative and excellent value for money.
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology

Churchill goes to War


The story of Winston Churchill’s adventurous and innovative voyages by sea and air to meet leaders such as Roosevelt and Stalin.
Well researched and at times deeply inspiring.
Andrew Roberts, Mail on Sunday

Empire of the Seas


Which spent four weeks in the Sunday Times best sellers list in 2010.

This is an excellent book, readable yet informed and underpinned by Brian Lavery’s expertise as one of the best naval historians in Britain, if not the world. Buy the book and remember why Britain needs the Royal Navy; a navy that gave her prestige and influence.
Dr Duncan Redford, University of Exeter

The Conquest of the Ocean


This book gives us an enormous amount of information about exploration, trade and war during the last 5,000 years of travelling our planet’s mass of water known as “The Oceans”.

He uses first hand accounts to bring alive the points of view of different cultures and nationalities and different classes of seamen, passengers and immigrants. Lavery can spin a good yarn and keeps you interested throughout.
Mrs. M. Stamp, Vine Voice

Haynes Manual
SS Great Britain


Using the format of the classic car manuals, it explains Brunel’s historic ship from the point of view of the builders, the sailors, the engineers and the passengers. It is a meticulously detailed, and beautifully and profusely illustrated study of one of the technically most important ships ever built in Britain, covering its history, construction, equipment, engineering, people, navigation and career.

Complete master of his subject, Lavery manages to explain things clearly for the landlubber while at the same time giving such comprehensive and intimate detail as to enthrall anyone who has used the sea.
Seaweed, Amazon

Nelson's Victory


Covering much more than the conventional story of the ship at Trafalgar under Nelson, this book breaks new ground in exploring the whole 250 year story of the ship using documentary sources and personal experience.

Supported by an engaging text and well chosen illustrations, it is an account in which the fascinating life of the ship, which played such a prominent part in the maritime history of the nation, truly comes alive.
Maritime Media Awards, 2015

Haynes Manual
Mary Rose


A comprehensive guide to Henry VIII’s great, innovative and tragic warship.
Contains just the right level of detail on the ship, its crew and fittings, plus the story of its recovery. Has a good amount of photos and plans to really bring the ship alive.
Amazon Customer

The Last Big Gun, at War and at Sea with HMS Belfast


The story of Britain’s last surviving cruiser, her design and building, and service including the sinking of the Scharnhorst, the Normandy invasion and the Korean War, using accounts by those who served on board.

Remaining true to technical and operational details, Lavery never fails to inform while at the same moment maintaining the reader’s interest.
Joseph Moretz, PhD, British Commission for Military History

Wooden Warship Construction; A History in Ship Models


Using ship models of the time, this book gives a detailed description of the construction methods of warships of the eighteenth century. Valuable for historians and modelmakers.

Incredibly, so many details are presented you can’t possibly remember them all after one reading. Anyone considering building an authentic wooden ship model or researching any aspect of ship construction would do well to begin with this excellent book.
Irwin Bryan

Churchill Warrior


How a Military Life Guided Winston’s Finest Hours.

What Lavery does best is track Britain's military development through the half-century prior to World War II, a process that often centered on Churchill… Lavery gives life to the arguments and compromises behind some of the most consequential military decisions of the last century, folding together crisp narration with quotes from British leaders.
Paul X. Rutz, HistoryNet

Anson’s Navy


This book gives attention to a multitude of factors that affected the development of the Royal Navy: the workings of Parliament and the British cabinet, cooperation and competition between the Admiralty and navy boards, the state of British colonies worldwide, and (naturally) the ships and men of the service itself.

Lavery skilfully weaves these factors into a coherent and digestible whole; the reader need not fear being bogged down by minutiae.
Michael Romero, US Naval War College Review

Royal Yachts


The story of Royal yachts from the time when Charles II encountered them in 1660 at the end of his exile in Holland, until queen Victoria discovered the advantages of steam. Much on the uses of the yachts, including regime change and diplomatic and military missions.

So this isn’t just an illustrated book, it is also a fabulous read, because Lavery wears his considerable learning so lightly, describing not just how they were built but who served in them.
David Boyle, Aspects of History

Two Navies Divided


A comparison between the United States and the British navies at the time of the Second World War. They started with common origins but often interpreted them differently. Much on the culture and personnel, as well as ships and tactics.

The Royal Navy Officer's Pocket-Book


The Officer’s Handbook gathers together useful advice and instruction for those naval officers fighting the Second World War on all aspects of their job, expressed in the benevolent language of the day, when authority was respected.