Monday, April 11, 2011

History of the Indian Navy

I recently purchased this two volume set of books from On Military Matters  in the US. As usual, the service was exemplary!

The books are published in India by Manas Publications. The set I have is a reprint from 1985. They were originally published in 1877. Volume 1 covers the period 1613 to 1830.

As with books published in India the quality is not what one would expect from a US or UK publisher. Some pages have blemishes and creases and the gluing of the interior cover is not flat.

There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of useful information in these books. There is a nice appendix of ships built in the Bombay dock yard and a very useful list of the naval establishment at the time of the Mutiny, together with a list of commissioned officers.

My only complaint is that some pages are three quarter footnotes (well,  not really a problem) and that on the odd occasion when you expect a list of vessels in a particular battle or account of a chase it may not be there! Nonetheless, they contain much information I have not seen elsewhere. There are about 40 pages dealing with the period 1754 to 1760.

There are no illustrations nor maps.

There are OCR (optical character recognition) copies available. I absolutely hate OCR reprints. They come with warnings that  "There may be typos or missing text. There are no illustrations or indexes." They contain, in my experience garbled text and multitudinous typos! And they can cost a lot. A quick check of the cost reveals that volume 2 alone is $113!! Rant over...

Another interesting book is Lords of the East, published by Conway Maritime books in 2000. There are 16 pages of colour plates.

A good book, explaining why the tonnage of East India Company ships is usually incorrectly recorded - essentially less taxes to pay! This book deals much less with the military side of things.



  1. UK readers might find it easier to get the Naval and Military Press reprint at £39 for 2 volumes.

    Their paperbacks are reasonably good quality and they also have a good catalogue of pre 1860 campaigns in India.

    Only trying to be helpful. I know nobody loves a smartarse.


  2. No problems John! I had forgotten about Naval & Military Press!