Today I started to re-read (actually re-listen to since in addition to owning the entire set of books I also own the entire set as Audio Books from Audible dot Com) Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series.
These books are neatly wedged into the Historical Fiction category, being nautical tales that take place during the Napoleonic Wars (1796 through 1811) and chiefly focus on the two main protagonists: Royal Navy Officer Jonathan "Jack" Aubrey, and his companion and good friend Stephen Maturin, who is a Physician and member of the Catalan Independence Movement as well as a spy for the English government where all things Spain and France are concerned.
There are actually three main protagonists in the stories -- but the third protagonist who is the Sloop HMS Surprise -- doesn't actually appear until she is introduced in book 03. She is quite a character nevertheless!
This series of books is a more adult version of the Hornblower series, but the amazing part (and the reason I think you lot will really love these books as much as I do) is that their author - Patrick O'Brien - goes to very significant efforts to both rely in verifiable reference sources for the images of life and the Royal Navy that he paints in words, but also takes considerable effort to describe in some detail the lot in life of the typical sailor and the officers.
What that means is, for one thing, he takes great pains to describe the rations that were consumed aboard the Royal Navy Ships, how they were prepared and how they were consumed. For military ration hounds that alone is sufficient reason to read the entire series IMO!
I was turned on to this series by my father, who because of his dream (never fulfilled) to buy a boat and sail it around the world, taking photos of birds - not only inhaled the books but found a personal hero in Dr. Maturin, despite his many personal flaws. And Maturin truly was a flawed man, suffering from a deep and unabridled love for a particular woman (Diana Villers - who is the cousin of the woman that Jack would marry and create a family with) and a weakness for drugs of many types, from Opium to Laudanum, Cocaine to Khat, and others whose names I don't remember - which he used to numb his emotional pains.
Still the deep and vivid descriptions of the rations consumed by sailors and officers, combined with the historical military nature of the stories being told - strikes me as just the sort of thing you all might be interested in.
If you decide that you prefer to listen rather than read from paper books - or you have a regular commute that makes having audio versions preferable and convenient - you will find the entire series at Audible dot Com - a site and service I have been a member of since it first launched and that I wholly endorse!
Audible dot Com Special Offer - this company has always had a special offer that allows you to open an account and download and listen to your first book for free. It's a way to allow you to sample both the convenience and the selection of books there - so if you wanted to you could get the first book for free and listen to it either on your personal computer (they have a PC and Apple program) or on your digital media player/device. That can be almost any Apple Product from an iPod to iPad, or your iPhone, Amazon Fire Tablet / Kindle, Keyword or Kindle Toucha relatively inexpensive MP3 Player like Sandisk's or Creatives, or even a modern GPS device such as Tom Tom or those made by Garmin!
I created a web page on my website that lists all of the books and has links to both the paperback books and the audio books on Audible (that are part of the referral program). If you use the links on that page I get free books - thought I should mention that because you should know.
Either way - whether you use my referrals or not, you should definately check out the books in the series, starting with Master and Commander. They rock!
For non-MRE, non-ration topics
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I've read this entire series 5 times I believe... and I'm sure I've read the Sharpe and Flashman series that many times as well. My 3 favourite historical fiction series' of all time.
In the immortal words of President Harrison Ford, Air Force One: Peace is not the absence of war... it is the presence of justice.
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