Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle, 1803-1805

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The Battle of trafalgar has often been viewed as an isolated feat on the part of the great English commander, or at best the result of a naval campaign begun only months earlier.
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Overview

The Battle of trafalgar has often been viewed as an isolated feat on the part of the great English commander, or at best the result of a naval campaign begun only months earlier.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schom ( Emile Zola ) argues that England's greatest naval victory, the 1805 battle of Trafalgar, resulted from the breakdown of Napoleon's scheme to invade Great Britain. Linking the French preparations for invasion, the ``Great Terror'' of the awaiting English citizenry, the blockade of French ports and the subsequent sea battle, the author of this well-researched history brings out of obscurity a human catalyst: Admiral William Cornwallis. Cornwallis led the Royal Navy's two-year blockade, which prevented the launching of Napoleon's amphibious flotilla across the Channel, and also created and dispatched the separate fleet that Admiral Horatio Nelson commanded so brilliantly off Cape Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. Schom's narrative of that engagement, which pitted Nelson against the combined French and Spanish fleets under Admiral Pierre Villeneuve (and during which Nelson lost his life) is memorable for its clear explication of the tactics that made the British admiral one of the great captains of military history. Schom concludes with a description of Nelson's majestic state funeral--to which Cornwallis, the ``unobtrusive hero,'' was not invited. Illustrations. (Dec.)
Library Journal
This well-written book presents Trafalgar in its strategic context rather than as an isolated heroic event. Schom regards the battle as merely the last act of a 29-month campaign to prevent a French invasion of Britain. His central character is not Nelson, but Admiral Sir William Cornwallis, commanding the Channel fleet. Cornwallis, ``a patient player of naval chess,'' maintained control of the Channel and kept the bulk of the French navy blockaded throughout this critical period. He thereby staved off a landing Schom regards as a real possibility, given Napoleon's propensity for seizing any opportunities his enemies might offer. Schom's thesis is persuasive, and the book merits a place in collections on naval history and on the Napoleonic era.--Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Booknews
Schom (Emile Zola; a biography) devotes half his book to the plans, hopes, fears of the combatants. He correctly claims that many of the classic accounts take up the battle no earlier than Jan. 1805. His other major departure is to honor the chief architect of this pivotal victory, Admiral Cornwallis. A useful addition to the Trafalgar accounts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689120558
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 11/5/1990
  • Edition description: 1st American ed
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Alan Schom was a professor of French and European history before retiring to write full-time. He is the author of Emile Zola: A Biography and the forthcoming One Hundred Days: The Road to Waterloo.

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