Thomas Trotter, after studying medicine at Edinburgh, began his naval career as a surgeon's mate in 1779 and saw continuous service up to the peace of 1802, rising as a result of great abilities and the right patronage to become Physician to the Channel Fleet, and being present at the great battles of Dogger Bank in 1781 and the Glorious First of June in 1794. As Physician to the Channel Fleet, he was a major player in the conquest of scurvy and the control of typhus and smallpox in the navy. After the peace he settled in Newcastle where he produced pioneering work on alcoholism and neurosis, as a result of which he is regarded as one of the founders of the field of addiction studies. This book provides an intimate account of naval life in the great age of sail from the perspective of a surgeon, describing the impact of Enlightenment ideas and new medical techniques, and showing how improved health was a crucial factor in making possible the British fleet's great victories in this period.
BRIAN VALE is a maritime historian, whose books include Independence or Death: British sailors and Brazilian Independence (Tauris 1996), A Frigate of King George, Life and Duty on a British Man-of-War (Tauris 2001) and The Audacious Admiral Cochrane (Conway 2004). GRIFFITH EDWARDS, Emeritus Professor at King's College, London, is one of the country's leading experts on addiction. His publications include Alchohol: the Ambiguous Molecule (Penguin 2000) and Matters of Substance (Penguin 2005).