To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
by Arthur Herman. This was really a good book and a must-read for anyone who also likes Jack Aubrey or
Horatio Hornblower. It's one of those books that gives you a different perspective on history and helps
put today in perspective.
The book is a history of the British Navy and how it grew from a pirates (one sovereign's's pirate is another sovereign's hero) to a force that policed the maritime trade routes up to the 20th Century. The most interesting parts for me were the British perspective on the American colonies (a bunch of smugglers bent on circumventing Parliament's authority) and the blockades of Europe to defeat Napoleon and later Kaiser Wilhelm.
I highly recommend this book.