The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson

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9780465037643: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson

How did Horatio Nelson achieve such extraordinary success? In this authoritative biography, the eminent scholar Roger Knight places him firmly in the context of the Royal Navy of the time. Nelson was passionate and relentless from the outset of his career; his charisma and his coolness in battle are legendary. But his success depended also on the strength of intelligence available to him, the quality of the ships he commanded, the potency of his guns, and the skill of his seamen. Based on a vast array of new sources, this biography demolishes many of the myths that have for two centuries surrounded Nelson. Knight demonstrates that this great Romantic hero was in his time a shrewd political operator and often a difficult subordinate. He was occasionally naive, often impatient, and only happy when completely in command. Readers will emerge from this biography with a greatly enriched understanding of this singular man-one who was brilliant, severely flawed, and never to be crossed. Errata pp. 638 - 665: http://www.perseusbookspromos.com/docs/KnightErrataPP638-665.pdf

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About the Author:

Roger Knight is one of Britain's foremost experts on naval history and a renowned Nelson scholar. He was the chief curator and deputy director of the National Maritime Museum, London, and is now visiting professor of naval history at the Greenwich Maritime Institute.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Adm. Horatio Nelson became a national idol after smashing Napoleon's fleet in the 1798 Battle of the Nile. Killed in the victory at Trafalgar in 1805, he became England's greatest naval hero. The 200 years since have produced an avalanche of biographies, but Knight's book may be the best. No reader should shrink from its size because it's a page-turner. Entering the Royal Navy at 12 (the usual age), Nelson quickly demonstrated the skill, aggressiveness and charisma of a born leader. It didn't hurt that he had a genius for charming superiors, inspiring fierce loyalty from seamen and befriending colleagues. But Nelson was a man of his time, fawning over royalty, pursuing prize money, quick to defend slights to his rank and obsessively scheming for publicity and promotion. He could also be a vicious disciplinarian. In addition to this lucid, warts-and-all portrayal of his subject, Knight paints a vivid picture of the warfare in which Nelson excelled. Handling an 18th-century man-of-war required as much skill as maneuvering a 21st-century aircraft carrier. Directing a battle fleet before the age of steam and radio probably required even more. The author makes it all clear in this highly readable, authoritative and deeply satisfying biography. (Dec.)
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