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Trafalgar's Lost Hero: Admiral Lord Collingwood and the Defeat of Napoleon Hardcover – 19 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; New title edition (19 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471719951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471719953
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.9 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 824,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Website: for updates, news and other writing matters.

The Wisdom of Trees is a very personal look at our relationship with trees and woodlands - it is called The Wisdom of Trees not because I think they are wise, but because we would be wise to learn from them. It's the kind of book that I like to find in my stocking at Christmas: full of slightly geeky facts about the miracles of tree biology (how and why do oak trees communicate with each other; how to measure the height of a tree); what woodsmen get up to in the winter; and my favourite trees. It's not sentimental, but it does end with a call to bring woodlands back into our communal lives so that we can exploit and cherish them the way our ancestors did.

The King in the North is the first ever biography of a brilliant but obscure warlord and saint who straddles the transition between pagan and Christian worlds. Oswald was famed across Europe both before and after death: a powerful symbol of Dark Age heroism even though the reality of his life was brutal and short; a real life Beowulf or Aragorn. I have tried to construct a geography and political history of Britain in the 7th century to bring Oswald's dynasty, the Idings, to life. In doing so I hope readers will begin to see how the English state was born of their attempts to impose an idea of a rational kingship on a landscape of political chaos. The book has been beautifully produced by Head of Zeus: there are ample maps; genealogies to help fathom the complexity of unfamiliar names; and timelines to clarify the chronology. In a colour picture section images evoke aspects of Oswald's world - the world of the Lindisfarne gospels, of Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire hoard.

An archaeologist turned historian, I was born in London in 1961, though for the last fifteen years or so I've lived in the North-east of England. My interest in Collingwood came about because I was asked to make a film about him. When I went to buy a book for my research I found there hadn't been one for forty-odd years: he was either very dull or very neglected. I'm glad it was the latter - few biographers still admire their subjects when they have spent years with them.

John Martin, the painter of seemingly lunatic biblical apocalypses and brother of the man who tried to burn down York Minster, is another neglected Geordie, but he turned into something rather different: the hub of a social and intellectual circle which included his friends Turner, Constable, the Brunels, Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage and William Godwin. When Karl Marx came along dressed as Prometheus I had my story. It took ages to get a publisher, but Quercus rescued me; we were rewarded with a very flattering Guardian Book of the Week review which adorns the new paperback.

I am a Consultant Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund. My current project is called In the Land of Giants. It's a series of ten journeys through the Dark Age landscapes of Britain, for release in October 2015.

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

He joined the British Navy at age thirteen. After decades of apprenticeship, he rose to the rank of ship′s captain, then vice admiral, and finally commander in chief of England′s Mediterranean fleet. Beloved by fellow officers and seamen, he was renowned for his personal courage, strategic brilliance, and tactical excellence—all of which were in evidence as he forced Napoleon′s navy to confront the British fleet at Trafalgar and played a crucial role in the most celebrated victory in British naval history. His name was not Horatio Nelson. Trafalgar′s Lost Hero tells the thrilling life story of one of the greatest unsung heroes of all time. Overshadowed by the flamboyance and self–promotion of his closest friend and onetime romantic rival Nelson, Cuthbert Collingwood was a paragon of modesty whose audacious bravery surfaced only in the face of the enemy. It′s no accident that many of his adventures seem to spring from the pages of a Patrick O′Brian novel; Collingwood was one of the models for O′Brian′s hero, Jack Aubrey. This surprising treat for lovers of naval history and real–life adventure traces Collingwood′s exploits from his harsh coming of age at sea through his storied service in the American Revolution to the long and bitter struggle with Napoleon. Collingwood emerges as a wily and daring commander who was at his steely–eyed best when outgunned by the enemy. His coolness under fire is revealed in lively accounts of his rescuing Nelson from destruction and the entrapment of a 26–ship enemy fleet with a tiny, four–vessel squadron. At Trafalgar, he was seen calmly munching an apple as he led his squadron, guns blazing, into furious battle. It was Collingwood, himself devastated by the loss, who delivered the news of Nelson′s death to a nation stunned by the tragic price of victory. As accomplished as Collingwood was in the art of war, it was his personal skills that set him apart from his contemporaries. Bitterly opposed to flogging, he commanded the most highly disciplined crews in the Royal Navy. His evenhandedness and shrewd understanding of human nature were indispensable assets when he became the virtual viceroy of the Mediterranean. Incredibly, he was able to keep the peace among pashas and princes, deys and doges, from Cadiz to Constantinople—all while blockading the French fleet in the harbor of Toulon. Based on hundreds of personal letters, official documents, ships′ logs, diary entries, and contemporary newspaper accounts, Trafalgar′s Lost Hero brings a whole new perspective to the age of sail and revives the reputation of one of Britain′s greatest warriors, commanders, strategists, and statesmen.

From the Back Cover

"See how that noble fellow Collingwood takes his ship into action. How I envy him!" —Horatio Nelson At the same instant that Admiral Nelson uttered these words of admiration for his close friend and hero who led the first British ships into action at Trafalgar, Cuthbert Collingwood asked a fellow officer, "What would Nelson give to be here?" Calm but courageous, stern but kind, modest, daring, uncannily shrewd, and a fearless warrior always concerned for the welfare of those he commanded, Collingwood would seem the model of a fictional hero—and indeed he was. Trafalgar′s Lost Hero introduces you to the man whose real–life exploits have been attributed to the likes of Horatio Alger and Jack Aubrey. Never seeking the public acclaim craved by his closest friend and comrade Nelson, Collingwood was instrumental in forcing the combined French and Spanish fleets into the fateful battle, disabling the enemy′s flagship almost before the fight had begun, and taking command of the British fleet after Nelson′s death. To those who knew him, these remarkable accomplishments came as no surprise. They were to be expected from one of England′s greatest, albeit unsung, heroes. Bristling with action, packed with never–before–published accounts of major engagements from Collingwood′s secret letter book, and bringing a fresh perspective to Britain′s most celebrated naval victory, Trafalgar′s Lost Hero is truly a treat for lovers of naval history and real–life adventure, and a rousing story well told.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By gabrielle m weighell on 18 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great stuff
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Lost Hero redeemed 2 July 2006
By lordhoot - Published on
Format: Hardcover
On the whole, this proves to be an pretty interesting biography on Admiral Cuthbert Lord Collingwood. Since not much is known about this man and his career, that made the book even more interesting par say.

The book appears to be well written and researched. The lack of primary sources seem to hampered the author. But its pretty clear that the author covers most aspects of Collingwood's life and his naval career. What will surprised most readers appears to be Collingwood's close friendship with Horatio Lord Nelson who appears to be Collingwood's total opposite in personality. The book appears to be geared toward the novice reader although its informative for all readers. If there were any great weakness in this biography, it may be that the author appears to be over enthusiastic about his subject as if Collingwood can do no wrong.

But on the whole, this biographical work does justice to Lord Collingwood and managed to bring this naval warrior from under Lord Nelson's shadow and give him a bit of little lime light of his own. While the book tries to paint Collingwood in the same likeness of one of these fictional naval heroes, the book clearly shows that Collingwood is definitely no Aubrey, Hornblower or Bolitho. I strongly recommended this book for those whose interest in Napoleonic naval history remains high.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Under the shadow of Nelson 16 Aug. 2005
By Colonel Moran - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Collingwood was an outstanding naval officer who contributed much to England's maritime victories during the Napoleonic wars. Unfortunately, he lived and worked along with Britain's greatest, most controversial, and most fascinating admiral, Horatio Nelson.The immense volume of literature about Nelson has overshadowed interest in the life of Collingwood. While we know an immense amount about Nelson's life and career (read Sugden's new biography of only the first part of Nelson's life), we know little about Collingwood. His childhood and early career are almost entirely undocumented, posing a challenge for a biographer. His later life shows him to be a sailor of skill, a brave and aggressive fighter, and, in all likelihood, a better diplomat than Nelson. This book is pleasantly written, a quick read, and probably tells us as much about Collingwood as can be unearthed. Collingwood was not as complex and fascinating a personality as Nelson, but he comes across as a solid officer, and a kind person. Worth reading to fill in some gaps in our knowledge of this remarkable period in naval warfare.
Battle of Trafalgar 9 Jun. 2014
By Naval Spook - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a great read for the Naval History Buff who wants an in-depth, behind the scenes analysis of the Battle of Trafalgar and an intimate look at a very key player who actually had more to do with winning the battle than history's hero Lord Admiral Nelson. Nelson gets the nod from history as the battles hero (bisecting the line strategy), due to his scenes of death (white canvas, shirt and all) from the famous painters that immortalized him, but it was Collingwood who carried out those orders and saved the day by taking over for Nelson after being shot by snipers from an enemy combatant. Collingwood was as devastated as anyone aboard the HMS Victory, due to Nelson's fatal injury, but had the presence to carry the day when it could have gone the other way for the Spanish Armada.

In other quotes: "Collingwood was the Master and Commander that Patrick O'Brian used as a template for his Jack Aubrey!" That says volumes about Collingwood's seamanship and leadership. "He was almost always out-manned and under-gunned when he met the enemy." Saved the day on more than one occasion. Highest recommendation, A+++, Max Adams has done an excellent job of research and told the historical setting with wonderful flair.
A Study of a very Fallible and Gifted Human Being 3 Nov. 2013
By Paul of Oz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book an excellent study of the British Navy of the time and how Nelson and Collingwood reformed it and created a winning military machine.
Using limited primary sources it was able to give a good thumbnail sketch of a very human commander who believed in duty above all other things. I knew some of his end story from the novels of Alexander Kent but it was only by reading this book that you can gain an insight into what could have driven this man to what he did.
It also gave a good understanding of the sacrifices and losses he suffered with his concept of duty.
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