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Trafalgar: The Nelson Touch (GREAT BATTLES) Paperback – 6 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (6 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842127179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842127179
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.5 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

David Howarth here gives a wonderfully vivid and accurate reconstruction of that great sea battle which decided a nation¿s fate

From the Back Cover

The Battle of Trafalgar put an end for ever to Napoleon's hope of invading England, and established a British supremacy at sea which lasted until the age of air power. England's answer to the invasion threat had been to blockade Napoleon's fleets in the ports of Europe, and in the autumn of 1805 the key had been the harbour of Cadiz. Within lay the French and Spanish; offshore the English. Villeneuve, the unhappy commander who had lost the confidence of Napoleon and was saddled with poorly-trained crews, led the French and Spanish. Morale was low among the English too, many of whom had not set foot ashore for years. Then Nelson came, and suddenly pride and confidence swept through the British fleet. The course of the battle - the tension of the slow approach of the fleets, the desperate bravery of the French, the tactics of fighting square-rigged ships, the short shock of the engagement, the death of Nelson - is shown through the eyes of the men themselves. This is a masterly reconstruction of a great sea battle and the many precarious moments which decided a nation's fate PHOENIX PRESS NON-FICTION/HISTORY UK £7.99 USA $14.95 CAN $22.95 isbn: 1842127179

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. Daisley on 30 Sept. 2004
Format: Paperback
My parents bought me this book when I was 9 years old - I am astonished that my copy still hangs together considering the number of times I have read it cover to cover, or have gone back to it to remind myself of a particular episode, only to carry on reading to the end of the book.
It is as superbly paced as a good novel, each earlier chapter taking a theme - the lot and lives of ordinary seamen, or the career and national phenomenon of Nelson, etc - to the background of the two fleets closing on each other. There follows a moving account of the battle itself and the aftermath, and the efforts made by sailors to save the lives of those they had so recently been battling: as Masefield was fond of saying, navies are not intent on killing men, but on fighting ships.
There is of course a lot of historical revisionism these days which tell how Nelson was really a brutal disciplinarian, or how the splitting of Villeneuve's fleet was all that saved the English from annihilation; there is plenty enough original source material in this excellent book for you to draw your own conclusions.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jazzycat on 15 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
I have just read this book for the first time, and it won't be the last. The author carried me along so effortlessly that I was almost there at the scene. This is a balanced view of events, and gives credit where credit is due...especially where the ill-fated Admiral Villeneuve is concerned. His personal tragedy is described with a long overdue sympathy, and the detailed knowledge of his situation makes the account of the battle all the more compelling. Nelson was the admiral who died that day in 1805, but poor betrayed Villeneuve clearly wished he had too.
If you want to learn about Trafalgar, this is the book with which to start. It is also the book to which you will return after sampling all the others. I cannot praise it highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Whiteside TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 17 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
This excellent book describes in vivid detail the legendary and vital Battle of Trafalgar. The author David Howarth has done a superb job in bringing the reader deep into the heart of the action and he also deserves much credit for the amount of research done. The story reads like an action novel at times and it is a fine account of one of the most famous battles in history.

I admit that I knew very little about the battle apart from the fact that it took place in 1805 and involved the death of Nelson. What impressed me the most about this book is that it is never biased and balances the tragedies met by both sides in an honest way. It really is a tale of the two Admirals involved, the much loved and admired Nelson and the heavily criticised and chastised Villeneuve of the French fleet. What the author has done here is defend Villeneuve against many of the charges he faced and which lead to his very sad and tragic death. There was no glory for him even though he did what he felt was correct in the battle and indeed much of the blame is directed towards Napoleon. Nelson was rightly regarded as a national hero and was loved by everyone, from Admirals to the lowliest seaman. What Villeneuve would have given to have had half of that respect and at least this marvellous effort redresses the balance a little.

What came as a surprise to me was that there was a storm after the battle that claimed many more lives and several seamen said this was far worse than the actual war against the French and Spanish navy. Again this is told in a descriptive and enthralling way. I did have a couple of slight niggles with the book though. As someone that has very little knowledge of the subject, I did find some of the naval terms difficult to follow and I also felt that a diagram of the Victory with all the relevant parts named would have helped. These are minor gripes though and I heartilly recommend this stirring book without question.
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Format: Hardcover
David Howarth, a naval man himself (he helped run the famous 'Shetland Bus' between these islands and Norway, during WWII), has written a superb book in this account of one of the world's most famous and decisive naval victories.

The book builds like a gentle ocean swell, from the more general stuff about the military and political context, chiefly as it lay between Britain and France, or rather Napoleonic Europe, via portraits of the contending navies, their personnel and commanders, to the stormy double climax of the battle and the ensuing storm.

This is history that has the drama of tragic heroic myth, and Howarth's writing is up to the job, driving the reader along like the wind in ones metaphorical sails. The battle - all Napoleonic battles were confusing, what with the literal fog of war, be that purely meteorological, or down to the powder smoke that was always part of the action - but naval battles even more so, the maritime medium being that much more, well... fluid. Howarth does a masterful job of presenting the action with as much clairty as one could hope or wish for.

After the storm of arms came the elemental storm, which many of the participants - and Howarth makes expert use of contemporary sources - said was worse than the battle. Certainly it was of far longer duration, the battle being the work of just part of one day, whereas the storm lasted about a week!

The fates of the opposing commanders are both tragic. For those who don't know why, I'll not spoil the fun of finding out for yourself. At least Nelson had the consolation of knowing he was much loved! Poor old Villeneuve cuts a very sad figure.
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