Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The First Dutch War book in six volumes

The First Dutch War book, consisting of six volumes, was my first contact with information that was close to primary sources about the First Anglo-Dutch War. To its credit, The First Dutch War publishes material to which most people would not have had access. That was true for me, up to sometime in the latter 1990's, when I started to encounter better information sources about the war. Many of the problems with The First Dutch War stem from the death of the original author, Samuel Rawson Gardiner. C. T. Atkinson made a valiant effort, but came up short, simply due to his lack of familiarity with the subject. Still, my primary criticism is the lack of good references, in footnotes and bibliography. For the Dutch material, the references sources are so non-specific as to be useless. Compare that situation with Dr. Ballhausen's book, which is well-footnoted, even thought in some cases, the sources do not support the conclusion. In the last six months, I have seen many of the original Dutch documents that were likely used as the source for the Dutch information, especially in Vol.IV of The First Dutch War. Vol.IV has the best and most useful list of Dutch ships, with ship names, captains, guns, and crew figures.

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