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Master and Commander documentary


War Hero
On Channel 5 at the moment for all the History Hornblowers out there! Obviously it will run again on +1


Lantern Swinger

Good, and bad, documentary.

Good re. people, poor about ships and history ( I think they may have "forgotten" that the US LOST the War of 1812 ).

The harping on about the USS Constitution (rather than other ship-to-ship actions) merely shows how important it is to sell to the US market. The misrepresentation of ship design (basically the US "heavy frigates" were "heavy cruisers" versus the British "light cruisers" - they were built with 74-gun scantlings but only holding 44-guns) and forgetting their lack of effect on the war as a whole was sad.

Must really try to tell the whole truth in future (I can't wait to see any US documentaries about the War of 1812 or the Cuban Missile Crisis later this year to see how history can be misrepresented).



War Hero
Book Reviewer
Very interesting documentary particularly re the use of Live Oak for the warship frames. However, as observed, you are not allowed to say anything nasty about the USS Constitootion (which I visited when I had some time to spare on a business trip ages ago - not to be missed if you get the chance), or indeed to question the credibility of the mish-mash of myth that passes for history in the US. No mention of course that the Guerriere was on her last legs when attacked and on her way in for repair, her masts so rotten that she had to wear rather than tack, and anyway was only 2/3 the size and power of the American ship & therefore easy meat.

The USS Chesapeake lives on in the form of her captured timbers used to build the Chesapeake Mill at Wickham, now I believe an antiques shop.

Review coming up (when I have finished reading it) of Andrew Lambert's new book 'The Challenge' which is the story of Mr Madison's war. Good reading so far.


War Hero
Super Moderator
Spent a week in Boston with Mrs W and went round the Constitution, it's main advantage was a thicker hull than our frigates so shot didn't penetrate. Also had a guided tour of the town and I wound the tour guide up by correcting him all the time as their version of history is not even loosely based on fact.


Lantern Swinger

I have that book, it is even more damning than most proper histories - his turn of phrase at times is quite vicious. (He has a chapter on the American "myth-making".)

IF we think we get upset over the travesty of the US version of history, the Canadians get REALLY upset over the War of 1812 !

BUT unfortunately, I think that the last decade or so of British TV, etc.... has shown that the US view is the view to go with - something I would have thought the "TV dons" would have spoken out about - but they haven't (at least in the media).

As I said both the anniversaries of the War of 1812 and the Cuban Missile crisis will give rise to much poor history being spouted as "fact".

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