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The Pursuit of Victory : The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson Hardcover – 7 Jul 2005


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Hardcover, 7 Jul 2005
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713996196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713996197
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 5.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 718,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

My prayers have been answered with Roger Knight's The Pursuit of Victory. -- Flora Fraser, The Daily Telegraph

Probably the best single-volume Life that we are ever likely to see. -- Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Guardian

About the Author

Roger Knight is one of Britain's foremost experts on naval history and a renowned Nelson scholar. He was the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the National Maritime Museum from 1988 to 2000 and is now Visiting Professor of Naval History at the Greenwich Maritime Institute. He is also an experienced yachtsman, and has cruised most of the waters described in this book.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Clive Fouche on 13 Oct. 2005
Format: Hardcover
My interest in Nelson stems from an interest in his flagship at Trafalgar the HMS Victory. I developed this interest in my early teens at a time when the country I was living in was going through massive changes. One of the things I learned during this time was that the truth is often hard to come by when studying history particularly when you are living it. What I thought was truth turned out not to be so true and at the same time lies abounded from the other side. When it comes to the life of Nelson I have read much and although my interest today is still the Victory I decided to find a decent biography of Nelson to add to my library. Roger Knight has, in my opinion, told the truth about Nelson in the most complete way I have ever come across in a very easy to read style and backed up by a prolific bibliography. Two thirds of the book is the biography of Nelson and the rest consists of a chronology of Nelson's life, notes on the people in his life, notes about the ships he sailed in and a glossary. Roger Knight dispels some of the myths that have grown up about Nelson but does not detract from the outstanding leader of men that Nelson was. Nelson's failings are not glossed over in favor of his greatness as some have tended to do. Knight has not belittled Nelson to the point of saying that the battle of Trafalgar was nearly lost because of his vanity. Nelson was human like the rest of us, and this book shows the life of a true leader who overcame his weaknesses be they moral, personal or physical to rise above the norm and excel. This book was written to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and is, as far as I am concerned, the most balanced story of the life of Nelson there is.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Koetzsch on 20 July 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a marvelous book. It is very well researched and excellently written. As Professor Knight points out there are quite a few biographies of Nelson in circulation, but I would wager that none of them is as well researched and written as this one.
Following his life into his early career, it becomes quite obvious that Nelson is a gifted commander, exceptionally good at handling his men, a rather independent subordinate and a failure in the art of diplomacy. It amazes that Nelson still managed to reach high command. His snubbing of George III cannot have been a good career move in a patronage system. His independence as a subordinate must have been a pain in the neck for any commanding officer. There is plenty of evidence in Knight's book, that Nelson more often than not achieved just that. But his sheer brilliance at command saved him his skin with his superiors more than once. That his private life comes under so much scrutiny must surely be a result of his heroic status. Then again, one would think that there should be more subtle ways of handling these affairs, but I suppose Nelson's shortcomings diplomacy-wise didn't help him there.
What I found particularly useful at the end of the book were the biographical sketches of virtually everyone in some naval and other position during Nelson's life.
I read this book virtually in one go (over 4 or 5 days). I found it a real page turner and whilst some reviewers have noted some typos and misprints, I don't think this diminishes the book in any significant way.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a work of monumental scholarship, meticulous research and judicious analysis. Professor Knight's exposition of the historical and political context in which Nelson lived and fought is masterly. I have never read a better or clearer narrative of the events in Palermo and Naples, for example, nor a fairer assessment of Nelson's role. We see Nelson in all his complexity as warrior, leader, diplomat, subordinate, friend and lover. His shortcomings as well as his virtues are examined but always fairly; though there are aspects of his life which will always, for lack of authoritative evidence, remain elusive. It is this, as well as his heroic status, that makes him endlessly fascinating to biographers and a subject of perennial speculation. Future biographers, if they dare follow Professor Knight, may draw different conclusions but none will surpass him in scholarship. Why only four stars? Well, I give the book four and threequarters really. But I personally would have liked more numerous and fuller quotations from Nelson's letters. Even after two hundred years, they are amongst the most vivid in the language and reveal, depending on the recipient, his directness, his warmth and generosity, his occasional acerbity and one of the sources of his seductive charm: his ability to make individuals feel special. Also, there are signs of slipshod copy editing - typos and misprints etc. including one that says Nelson inherited £50 instead of £500 from his uncle. This sort of thing wouldn't matter very much in a potboiler but this magnificent book deserves better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. J. Waldie on 30 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
You may think that there wasn't much more that could be written about our greatest naval commander, well if you want a balanced history of Horatio Nelson, then you should read this book. Well worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Herbert on 11 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent, highly detailed account of the exploits of Britain's most well know Admiral. This book is nicely paced, informative and covers a very broad slice of history, taking in not only Nelson's surprisingly interesting life, but also opening the readers mind to the incredible bravery of the sailors who served in the navy in those days. I had little idea of the range of sailing skills required to bring such huge, wooden, sailing ships into battle and at such close quarters, with accounts of boarding, tales of derring do, battle and its consequences, very clearly set out. This is a highly readable book. The story of Nelson does not overpower the reader. The tales of navy life are fascinating and very well detailed. It leaves the reader in awe of the courage shown by all those on the British navy in those times. It is honest in its account of certain senior officers whose performance fell short, too. This really is a GOOD book and I commend to anyone interested in a colourful, heroic, account of the the early days of the burgeoning British empire.
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