Nelson: A Dream of Glory, 1758-1797

Nelson: A Dream of Glory, 1758-1797

by John Sugden
     
 

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The most authoritative and captivating account ever written of legendary British naval commander Horatio Nelson's early career and rise to prominence

Among military and naval commanders, Horatio Nelson stands as one of the finest examples of inspirational leadership. The historian John Sugden charts the period of Nelson's career neglected by earlier

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Overview

The most authoritative and captivating account ever written of legendary British naval commander Horatio Nelson's early career and rise to prominence

Among military and naval commanders, Horatio Nelson stands as one of the finest examples of inspirational leadership. The historian John Sugden charts the period of Nelson's career neglected by earlier writers-from childhood to his breathtaking victory against the Spanish fleet at Cape St. Vincent when he became an admiral, lost an arm, and won international fame. Like Alexander of Macedon, Nelson led from the front (not always a sensible custom). But he was a natural leader and a genuine hero, and his actions invariably raised his stock with his men, who trusted him as a commander willing to share their dangers.

Nelson combines groundbreaking scholarship with a vivid and compelling narrative style. Detailing every facet of Nelson's crowded life, the author offers the only full account of Nelson's early voyages and the first complete analysis of the formative incidents in his career. Throughout there are revealing and startling discoveries about Nelson's relationships with family, patrons, officers, and men-and with his women. Previous biographies have failed to penetrate the mythology encrusting one of the world's greatest naval heroes, and none has been based on a thorough examination of original sources.

Nelson will immediately become the benchmark against which all subsequent books about Nelson will be judged. It is a biography of the best sort: compelling, authoritative, and thrillingly alive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This splendid and colossal volume is the first of two constituting what is likely to be the definitive biography of Lord Nelson for at least a generation. The basic narrative may be familiar to most readers, taking Nelson from his childhood in a Norfolk rectory into the Royal Navy and up through its ranks to rear admiral. It leaves him there, temporarily beached, steeped in glory from his role at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent and minus an arm and an eye. Sugden (Tecumseh) has surpassed virtually every writer on the subject since the late Carola Oman in two respects. One, he has indefatigably used primary sources, sought over many years in many countries with much acknowledged help from fellow scholars. Second, he has placed Nelson firmly in the context of his country and his service in the 18th century, an era when a free and easy attitude toward sex, money and influence peddling prevailed. Sugden handles these aspects of "the Nelson touch" with aplomb-as well as the man's thorough knowledge of his profession, nearly suicidal physical courage, personal charisma and loyalty both up and down. Whether or not one believes in "great men," this is surely a great book about one of the most significant figures in the history of naval warfare, and even one volume of this latest biography will notably illuminate the seascape as we approach the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar. Agent, John Taylor Williams. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In his introduction to this impressive work, Sugden (Sir Francis Drake; Tecumseh) suggests that, despite recent biographies of Horatio Nelson (e.g., Terry Coleman's The Nelson Touch and Edgar Vincent's Nelson: Love & Fame), there is still an evident need "for a full dress biography [that will] fill the gaps in Nelson's record, explain all its twists and turns and remove the persistent mythology." Such a project, argues Sugden, would take more than one volume. This first of a projected two-volume study covers the least familiar period of Nelson's life, from childhood through his rise to international fame in 1797. Bolstered by a 13-page "Select Bibliography"-including six pages of manuscripts housed in 32 different repositories-Sugden's account of Nelson's early career certainly bids fair to fill the gaps, ranging from the future admiral's first years to the disastrous action off Tenerife, after which Nelson was to dejectedly write: "A left-handed admiral will never again be considered useful. Therefore the sooner I get to a very humble cottage the better, and make room for a better man to serve the state." With careful attention to documented details, Sugden develops his thesis that Nelson's characteristic "theatrical vanity" and display of "extreme endeavour" were "born of a common dynamic." Sugden has done well here; one expects that his projected second volume will continue his tour de force. Recommended for all libraries.-Robert C. Jones, Warrensburg, MO Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805077575
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/02/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
960
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.98(h) x 2.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Nelson:

The flagship was the farthest out, and it was probably a little after three in the morning when her watch heard a voice hailing them out of the night. Josiah's boat came alongside with the wounded admiral, and the men began to lower a chair. Nelson would not hear of it. "No," he said, "I have yet my legs and one arm," and in saying so he used a rope to struggle up the side unaided. William Hoste was aghast when he saw "the man whom I may say has been a second father to me," climbing onto the deck, "his right arm dangling by his side." Yet he showed "a spirit that astonished everyone" and "told the surgeon to get his instruments ready, for he knew he most certainly would lose his arm, and that the sooner it was off the better."

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