Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World

Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World

by Roy A. Adkins
     
 

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On October 21, 1805, as Britain's Royal Navy under the command of Horatio Nelson clashed withNapoleon's forces in an epic sea battle off the coast of Spain, the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Though the cost was high-and Nelson himself was killed-the British victory prevented Napoleon from invading Britain and paved the way for the eventual defeat of the French… See more details below

Overview

On October 21, 1805, as Britain's Royal Navy under the command of Horatio Nelson clashed withNapoleon's forces in an epic sea battle off the coast of Spain, the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Though the cost was high-and Nelson himself was killed-the British victory prevented Napoleon from invading Britain and paved the way for the eventual defeat of the French emperor. Without Trafalgar there would have been no Waterloo. The Battle of Trafalgar set Britain on its vast imperial course.

Now, on the battle's 200th anniversary, Roy Adkins offers readers a brutally vivid, gunport-level account of the battle. For more than five hours the crews of the British, French, and Spanish ships struggled under the constant barrage of cannon and musket fire amid choking fumes, and ear- splitting explosions. While the men maneuvered the ships and kept the cannons firing, the women tended the sick and helped the boys carry gunpowder cartridges to the gun decks. Capturing as never before the harsh conditions in which sailors lived and died, the mechanics of nautical warfare, and the relentless violence of 19th century naval combat, Nelson's Trafalgar is a must read for fans of military history and Patrick O'Brian. Sunday) Mail on Sunday)

Author Biography: Roy Adkins is a historian and archaeologist. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London. His previous books include The Keys of Egypt: The Obsession to Decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Dictionary of Roman Religion, and Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
This illustrious introduction to the Battle of Trafalgar from an archeologist and historian is one of the best in generations for the nonseafaring reader curious about the nautical epic, and it also handsomely rewards those whose study of the battle goes back a generation or two. The battle itself and its aftermath form most of the narrative, interspersed with details of gunnery, ship handling, discipline, construction, damage control and shipboard health and medicine (not for the weak of stomach). The author gives full credit to the heroism of both sides-the dismasted Spanish flagship Santa Ana; the crew of the British Belleisle, also reduced to a wreck; and the aptly named French Redoubtable, from whose tops a stray bullet killed Nelson. Also given in more than usual detail is the weeks-long aftermath of storms, which sank most of the British prizes and during which the British further distinguished themselves by rescuing and landing enemy survivors. "If blood be the price of Admiralty, Lord God we ha' paid in full," Kipling wrote decades later, and this narrative of one of the bloodier occasions in winning that Admiralty is fully worthy of its subject. (On sale Aug. 22) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
With a compelling mixture of historical narrative and quoted first-person accounts from Spanish, French, and British belligerents and with just the right amount of technical information, Adkins has produced the book against which all Trafalgar books will be measured. Here is a clear, unvarnished rendition of 18th-century naval warfare from the perspective of the gun deck and that targeted kill-zone, the quarter deck, where a French sniper's musket ball mortally wounded Nelson. Beginning with Napoleon's proposed invasion of England, Adkins brings the fleets together slowly, discussing naval practices and tactics until the first shot is fired. Then he takes readers through the utter savagery and violence of Trafalgar. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A thoroughgoing study of the most famous sea battle of the Napoleonic era, timed for its bicentenary. All battles have the potential to be world-changing, of course, but Trafalgar had immediately perceptible effects that proved its importance at once. In the first years of the 19th century, writes historian/archaeologist Adkins, Napoleon's forces were massing in such numbers on the Normandy coast that their vast camps were plainly visible across the English Channel; the army and the thousands of ships supporting it were meant to stage an invasion such as had not been seen since the time of the Armada, and the English government took the threat seriously enough to make contingency plans for a last-stand defense far inland. The real line of defense, though, was the Royal Navy. At Trafalgar, off the Spanish coast, Lord Horatio Nelson drew out the allied Spanish and French fleets, which he feared would disappear into the Mediterranean only to return in support of the invasion. The lead-up to that great battle had taken months and spanned the Atlantic. Nelson's tactics were brilliant, but the French were no slouches-and yet the Royal Navy proved victorious in some measure, Adkins suggests, because Napoleon mistrusted his own admirals and thrust elaborate and unworkable plans upon them in an effort to thwart the enemy. Adkins has a tendency to go textbookish in the thick of battle, but his detailed examinations of such things as the relative weights of musket balls and the general awfulness of shipboard cuisine give the reader a little breathing room between tension-filled episodes that involve no small amount of carnage. All involved receive due honor here. A boon for buffs of the NapoleonicWars, and a sturdy complement to Adam Nicolson's more exuberant Seize the Fire.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786282630
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
01/28/2006
Edition description:
REV Large Print
Pages:
608
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.60(d)

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