Monday, February 02, 2004

Why I have had reservations about Dr. Ballhausen's book Before I had seen this book, I had great hopes for it. The history section of the Netherlands Navy recommended it to me. Michael Robinson, in his catalogue of Van de Velde paintings quoted the book. I had not seen R.C. Anderson's criticism in the 1938 Mariner's Mirror. My concern started when I had seen the latter article, which has the English orders-of-battle for the First Anglo-Dutch War. I gave up on the book, as a source, when I started to get information that contradicted what he had. I had also started checking his footnotes. An example of his problems is that he says that Dirck Juynbol's ship, which was lost at the Battle of Dungeness, was the Hoop. Instead, the ship was the Gelderland. His main problem seems to be that he extrapolated from limited information. R.C. Anderson said that Dr. Ballhausen seemed to draw up lists randomly. That is too harsh, as I can see what his influences were. Too often, he followed The First Dutch War, after Dr. Gardiner died, when the series suffered from less knowledgable editing. I have also found, when checking Dr. Ballhausen's footnotes (those that I have been able to check), that they often don't support the conclusions drawn. His footnotes are difficult, as they reference obscure, published sources. I have not been able to find an instance where he actually consulted archival sources.

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