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Ramage and the Drumbeat (1967)

by Dudley Pope

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275991,485 (3.9)6
Lieutenant Lord Ramage is ordered to proceed to Gibraltar--with all possible dispatch--aboard his Majesty's ship Kathleen, to support Nelson in a battle with the Spanish off Cape Trafalgar.

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Ramage is dispatched with Marches di Volterra and her cousin to Gibraltar in a cutter. On the way he encounters a capsized Spanish frigate and decides to capture it and take it in tow. However he and his crew are captured, but an American sailor helps him pose an a pressed American. Paroled in Spanish town they are able to learn of Spanish plans, steal a boat and sail to Gibraltar. Sent with the fleet to intercept the Spanish, Ramage once again disobeys orders when he realizes that smoke is preventing the Commander from realizing the Spanish fleet may escape. He rams a Spanish 2 decker with his cutter and materially aids the victory after risking what seems to be certain death for himself and his crew. I begin to see a pattern here.
  ritaer | Dec 16, 2022 |
"Drumbeat" is the second book in the Ramage series. Another remake of the Napoleonic War with the usual point of view. Although a naval story, it starts of as a romance. Ramage has a lot of internal rants, his mind obsessed with love for a girl that he has met only six days prior. He seems prone to losing ships and although a Captain, he still wants to be one of the boys. He stumbles from one obstacle to another, gifted enough to keep both himself and his crew alive.

It was an entertaining read and there were moments when I found it hard to put down. At the end the story seemed to be cut short. Could have used another chapter and I assume that will be the first chapter of the next book. ( )
  delta61 | Feb 27, 2020 |
I don't know a lot about naval history, but this historical fiction book includes the Battle of Cape St Vincent(14 February 1797). Although it starts out as a romance, men in the navy when sailing ships ruled!
  CAFinNY | Apr 26, 2019 |
The second in the Ramage series and every bit as good as the first on. The battle scenes are vivid but what I really like is the description of Ramage and his men. Pope does not make this a one person book. You do get into the head of Ramage as he struggles with his decisions but he allows supporting crew to have their own part in the story.

A great read. ( )
  Lynxear | Jul 25, 2017 |
Ramage takes command of the cutter Kathleen and is off to rescue the beautiful Marchesa di Volterra. Excellent series, sometimes based upon actual events. Always a good story with interesting characters, puzzling quandaries, and sometimes quirky solutions. Age of sail tyros should read early in their literary questing for his knowledge and insights into fighting, sailing, and British Navy life during these quite fascinating times. Many set in the Caribbean where Pope lived for most of his writing career enabling him to provide very helpful maps, not often found in fiction, for his scenarios. ( )
  jamespurcell | Jan 31, 2014 |
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For Bill and our Baby Jane
who sailed across
the Atlantic
with us
First words
The heat and humidity of a Mediterranean summer made the watermark in the paper stand out like a fading scar, and traces of mildew lift a tarnished gilt outline round the edges.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Lieutenant Lord Ramage is ordered to proceed to Gibraltar--with all possible dispatch--aboard his Majesty's ship Kathleen, to support Nelson in a battle with the Spanish off Cape Trafalgar.

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This is the second installment in the "Lord Nicholas Ramage" series and it begins a few days after the first one ended, with Lieut. Ramage commanding an extremely cutter west of Sardinia in the Fall of 1796, trying to convey the refugee Marquesa di Volterra and her cousin back to Gibraltar, from which they will continue to England to make common cause against Napoleon. They weather a severe gale and shortly thereafter come upon a Spanish frigate that didn't do as well, having been reduced to a mastless hull. Still, the Spaniard is eight times the size of Ramage's cutter and her guns presumably still function perfectly; no sane skipper would do anything but give the derelict a wide berth and keep on going. Ramage, of course, has to take a crack at capturing the enemy -- which, of course, he does, through an ingenious stratagem involving a gig and fifty pounds of gunpowder. Awhile later, he meets a British frigate, which relieves him of the Marquesa, and after that the little cutter manages to run smack into a Spanish squadron, which relieves him of both his prize and his own ship. Ramage perseveres throughout, does a little espionage work (as the opportunity arises) regarding the plans of the Spanish fleet, and eventually finds himself reunited with his ship and his crew and attached to Sir John Jervis's fleet. This gives Pope the opportunity to present the reader with an excellent picture and tactical analysis of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, one of the two or three most important engagements of the war. Ramage even plays a key role in "Nelson's Patent Bridge for Taking First-Rates." (Well, it is a novel.) Ramage is a personable sort and a (mostly) believable unintentional hero. It doesn't have the literary depth of Patrick O'Brian but it's a good, fun series nevertheless.
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