“The best historical novels ever written.”—Richard Snow, The New York Times

“Some of you…have never read a Patrick O’Brian novel. I beseech you to start now. Start with Master and Commander, which should be available in paperback from your nearest bookseller. And if he—or she—does not have a copy, then beat the wretched fellow.”—Kevin Myers, Irish Times

The first in Patrick O’Brian’s acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series of nautical novels set during the Napoleonic wars, Master and Commander is detailed, immediate, and rich in the jargon of 18th century sailors. The experience was not unlike when I tried to read English books at 16, sort of getting the drift of things but missing out on exactly what every word meant. The coxwain and the bosun and the foretopmastscurvysail, the quarter-deck and the wenches. I enjoyed this, but I’m not going to run out to get the second book anytime soon.

Soon to be a movie starring Russell Crowe.