The Nelson Touch: The Life and Legend of Horatio Nelson

The Nelson Touch: The Life and Legend of Horatio Nelson

by Terry Coleman
     
 

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Admiral Horatio Nelson captures our imaginations like few other military figures. A mixture of tactical originality, raw courage, cruelty, and romantic passion, Nelson in action was daring and direct, a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator. Now, in The Nelson Touch: The Life and Legend of Horatio Nelson, novelist Terry Coleman provides a superb portrait… See more details below

Overview

Admiral Horatio Nelson captures our imaginations like few other military figures. A mixture of tactical originality, raw courage, cruelty, and romantic passion, Nelson in action was daring and direct, a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator. Now, in The Nelson Touch: The Life and Legend of Horatio Nelson, novelist Terry Coleman provides a superb portrait of Britain's most revered naval figure.
Here is a vivid account of Nelson's life, from his childhood and early career at sea--where a high-placed uncle helped speed his advancement to post captain--to gripping accounts of his greatest sea battles. Readers will witness the Battle of the Nile, where Nelson crushed a French squadron of thirteen ships of the line, and the Battle of Trafalgar, where he died at the moment of his greatest triumph. What emerges is a man of strength of mind amounting to genius, frequently generous, always fascinated with women, often uneasy with his superior officers, and absolutely fearless. Coleman also lays bare Nelson's faults: he was a ruthless commander, whose instinct was not just to defeat the enemy but to annihilate him. Indeed, some of Nelson's more controversial actions might be viewed as war crimes today. And he was a skillful self-promoter, who did all he could to advance his own fame. But in the end, that fame was well earned and he was deservedly idolized by the British people.
Sure to appeal to readers of Patrick O'Brian and other seafaring fiction, as well as all military history and naval history buffs, this is a superbly written biography that gives readers the texture and feel of this magnificent life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran British historian Coleman (Going to America) now tackles the life of Horatio Nelson, Britain's most celebrated naval hero. Admiral Nelson (1758-1805), whose glory was sealed with his death at the battle of Trafalgar, has been celebrated in various hagiographies, and his dashingly carried-off love affair with Lady Emma Hamilton has been Hollywood fodder. Coleman offers 27 short, solid chapters with lively headings like "I Shall Come Laughing Back," "Fiddlers, Poets, Whores, and Scoundrels," "Natural Born Predator" and "Well Then, I Will Be a Hero," making Nelson's Romantic renown seem deserved, but he also lays bare the admiral's faults, concluding "that Nelson was often ruthless, there is no doubt." (On one voyage he had fully half of the crew flogged, some of them merely for "mutinous language.") The book's title refers to Nelson's description of his special approach or talent for winning battles, a bit of self-praise that was deserved, even if immodest. Without seeming to have a scholarly axe to grind, Coleman offers a useful corrective to writers so enamored of maritime history and its heroes that they lose sight of the importance of accuracy. There are clearly written analyses of the major battles, as well as the admiral's complex private life, such as his dumping of his wife, Fanny, although supporting her for the rest of his life and retaining her affection. His passion for the wife of a nobleman, Sir William Hamilton, was less well received by the snobby Brit society of his day, but perhaps least popular of all was Nelson's endless careerism and appetite for honors. Coleman points out Nelson's bravery in the face of wounds that would have retired many a lesser sailor, including the loss of an eye and an arm. Nelson, who was always convinced he would be a famous man, would certainly be pleased by this renewed attention. (Apr.) Forecast: Certainly surpassing previous attempts such as Horatio Hornblower novelist C.S. Forester's life, this book is particularly notable for its rich recreations of late-18th-century British public life. Academic attention could lead to a belated American edition of Coleman's valuable 1965 study of the 19th-century laborers who built the British railway system, The Railway Navvies. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Novelist and historian Coleman (Going to America) employs his investigative skills in this carefully researched biography of Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) in an attempt "to tease out the man from the legend." Nelson, Coleman suggests, "was a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator, and those who look to find a saint besides will miss the man." Now, nearly 200 years after his death, it may be impossible to distinguish between the legend and the man himself. Certainly, Nelson's life story, as Coleman presents it, is a tantalizing mixture of opposites: a charismatic leader "with a strength of mind amounting to genius," who, as captain of the frigate Boreas, "flogged almost half his people"; a devoted family man who "delighted in women and always noticed them"; a national hero whose "private character" was "most disgraceful in every sense of the word," according to his great mentor, St. Vincent. Whether one agrees or disagrees that Nelson's legend has outlasted and overshadowed the man, this is an important addition to the more than 100 other Nelson biographies in existence. Coleman bases his study on extensive research in primary sources, meticulously footnoted. A wealth of illustrations complement the text admirably. Recommended for all libraries. Robert C. Jones, formerly with Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A vivid and challenging picture.... Terry Coleman clearly intends to be provocative—and he succeeds.... This book deserves to be taken seriously."—The Economist

"A superb biography."—Manchester Guardian

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199924059
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/11/2002
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
8 MB

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