The period 1798 to 1815 - the Napoleonic Wars - has just about everything that you could wish for in a book on naval history - large fleet actions such as the Battle of the Nile and Copenhagen; many duels between pairs or small groups of ships, such as the Shannon and Chesapeake; combined operations like the disastrous Walcheren expedition; and attempts to destroy enemy ships with new inventions like torpedoes and rockets. Most naval histories stop at Nelson, but this book shows that what came afterwards is just as fascinating. Naval history is not just about broadsides and bloodshed, but the lives and experiences of real people, and for the first time extensive eyewitness accounts vividly portray aspects of life other than actual battles, including shipwrecks, press-gangs, prostitutes, spies and prisoners-of-war. At various times during this 17-year period, the British Navy took on almost every other nation that had a rival fleet: the French, Spanish, Dutch, Danes and Americans. Shipping routes all over the world were guarded to ensure that trade with Britain was not interrupted, and as Napoleon lost his empire, the British Empire formed solid foundations - all because Britain came to control the oceans.