Reviews for Britannia's Navy on the West Coast of North America, 1812-1914


“Barry Gough is one of the world's predominate scholars of the Royal Navy and the leading scholar on the Navy's role on the Pacific frontier. This classic is an absolute must for the library of anyone interested in the maritime and naval history of the Northwest Coast and the wider Pacific."

—James Delgado, PhD, past Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum


“It is rare that we have the pleasure to experience British Columbia’s history from the water, but now can do so, thanks to the consummate naval historian Barry Gough. To travel the tumultuous 19th century up and down the coast with the Royal Navy is a treat indeed. Whether we are a weekend boater or a history, geography, or naval buff, this robust account of men in boats is engaging and provocative."

—Jean Barman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia


“In this massively re-written and expanded version of Britannia's Navy on the West Coast of North America, the accomplished naval historian Barry Gough has turned a small classic of 1971 into a major scholarly work of 2016. The newer chapters, and especially the newer, extended archival notes, will impress every professional historian—Gough's command of the sources is remarkable. This vast region of the Northern Pacific, and the Northwest Coast of Canada, has now been brought into the larger story of British naval mastery in the nineteenth century. This is an invaluable work."

—Paul Kennedy, Dilworth Professor of History, Yale University, and author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers and The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery


“Barry Gough’s formidable sweep through a century of British naval and imperial penetration of the northwest coast of North America displays on every page the peerless mastery of an author who has contemplated his topic for most of his adult lifetime. The book is not a naval history; it is a geopolitical study of what Alfred Thayer Mahan characterized as “sea power” and what Barry Gough much more cogently defines as “the pursuit of power and the pursuit of profit, in equal measure.” This prolonged British thrust for dominance in the North Pacific would today be encompassed within the phrase 'globalization.' The author eloquently describes in detail, breadth, and with awe how this goal was sought and achieved by a distant island nation in the face of competition by the sprawling and avaricious United States. Read and savor this book to understand the Anglo-American past in the Pacific and what it means for today and tomorrow.”

—Kenneth J. Hagan, Professor and Museum Director Emeritus, US Naval Academy Captain, US Naval Reserve (Ret.)


Britannia’s Navy updates and enhances a classic that shaped the study of imperial maritime peripheries. The new edition develops the role of the British captains and admirals who commanded the station, and the critical relationship they had with London policy makers at the foreign and colonial offices, which shaped local policies and their relation with Britain’s global economic and strategic position. The Royal Navy played a critical role in the development of British Columbia, from securing borders with the United States to promoting economic activity, and has left an indelible legacy on Canada’s west coast.”

—Andrew Lambert, Professor of Naval History, King’s College, London


“In this book, Professor Barry Gough has told the enthralling story of how the Royal Navy created, developed, and sustained its Pacific station, which became the largest in the British Empire during the nineteenth century. These far-sighted actions not only developed the Esquimalt naval base but they also secured the settlement of British Columbia in the face of threats from Russian territorial expansion, American “Manifest Destiny,” encroachment, gold prospectors from California, and Fenian filibusterers. This book is a stimulating product of Gough’s fifty years of work as an historian deeply involved in British and Canadian naval traditions.”

—William S. Dudley, PhD, former Director, US Naval Historical Center