Many of the passages have been chosen for dramatic and historical interest: accounts of Cape St Vincent, the Nile, Trafalgar, the United States versus the Macedonian, and Navarino as well as more obscure but nevertheless exciting actions. Other passages illustrate the less exciting aspects of lower deck life: desertion and the press gang, discipline and floggings, the tedium of convoy duty, living conditions, feelings about officers, and so forth. The resulting picture, while lively and engaging, still seems rather distant — but then the only way for us to obtain a really intimate feel for the life Baynham describes is probably to do a stint in one of the world's less pleasant penal systems. From the Lower Deck is a valuable counterpoint to the more common "quarterdeck" views of naval service during the period, be they biographies of Nelson or works of fiction.
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