About Sam

Dr Sam Willis is an historian, archaeologist and broadcaster.


Sam is the author of numerous books including the bestselling Hearts of Oak Trilogy and the Fighting Ships Series. His latest book, The Struggle for Seapower is the first all encompassing naval history of the American Revolution.

Sam has also published a number of articles on a wide variety of subjects in history. He has written for The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, BBC History Magazine, War in History, The Journal of Military History, The Journal of Maritime Archaeology, The International History Review, The Journal for Maritime Research and The Mariner’s Mirror.


Sam has worked on the Hornblower TV series and on Channel 4’s award winning film Shackleton. The Shackleton project involved building a replica of Shackleton’s ship the Endurance and sailing her into an arctic ice pack.

In 2012 Sam presented ‘Nelson’s Caribbean Hell Hole‘ a film for BBC4 about a mass sailors’ graveyard on a beach in Antigua.

In the summer of 2013 Sam was part of a team that recreated the 1869 John Wesley Powell expedition – the first time that anyone rowed the length of the Grand Canyon. Operation Grand Canyon was broadcast on BBC2 in January 2014.

In 2013  Sam represented a 3-part series for BBC4 Shipwrecks: Britain’s Sunken Historyand in 2014 another 3-part series for BBC4 Castles: Britain’s Fortified History. The theme of retelling significant themes in British history continued in 2015 with a 3-part series ‘Britain’s Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates & Rogues.’

Sam is currently filming a 3-part series for the BBC on ‘The Silk Road’ and a 6-part series on World War 2 for National Geographic.

Sam has also presented three BBC iWonder guides – on the destruction of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow,  the crazy dazzle-camouflage that so characterised WW1 at sea, and the death of Lord Kitchener. He has also presented two BBC ‘WW1 Uncut’ films – on U-Boats and Explosives.


Sam has worked as a maritime history consultant and talking head for Christie’s, the BBC, Channel 4, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and National Public Radio in Boston.

Sam is a Visiting Fellow in Maritime and Naval History at the University of Plymouth, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Sailing Ship by Jamie Whyte

Designed and hosted by The Burlington Partnership