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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Biography of Nelson
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...
Published on 13 Oct. 2005 by Clive Fouche

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Fairly dry reading
Published 6 months ago by A1987


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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Biography of Nelson, 13 Oct. 2005
By 
Clive Fouche (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars If there ever was a page-turner, this is it!, 20 July 2006
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This review is from: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 6 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a victory for Knight, 30 Mar. 2010
By 
Mr. R. J. Waldie "Jambrain" (Essex, U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just Nelson, 11 Oct. 2014
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Mr. M. Herbert "Bowmore" (Scotland uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top gift for Nelson enthsiasts, 9 Mar. 2011
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Mrs. Helen Penniston "Angelica" (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson (Paperback)
Bought this as a gift for my Dad. He has not yet ventured into the world of internet shopping and had been looking for a good book on Nelson for ages with no success. Amazon came to the rescue and swayed by previous reviews but not knowing what I was looking for I chose this title. Dad was over the moon and says it is the best comprehensive life story of Nelson he has come across. Just what he's been looking for in the bookshops but couldn't find.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Missing a vital part?, 3 Mar. 2014
By 
John Marston (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson (Paperback)
I came to this book having read the author's superb Britain Against Napoleon. I will not repeat the praises of other reviewers, suffice to say they are right. However, potential buyers of the paperback edition should be aware that it is published without endnotes and bibliography. Shame on you Penguin, this may be acceptable for those who just want to read but for those of us who might wish to take things further it now means tracking down a hardback copy. It would have been helpful if this omission was made clear before purchase. For this reason I cannot give book 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the pursuit of victory, 21 Jun. 2012
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The book about Nelson and his rise and demise at Trafalger was an enthralling insite into the man his strengths and his weaknesses.I found the whole thing most illuminating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome aboard ..., 23 Sept. 2014
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A very detailed account of Nelson's life - both naval and personal. Contains a lot of technical detail and naval language. Lacked the easy narrative of some of the other historical accounts I've read recently, e.g. Storm and Conquest: The Battle for the Indian Ocean by Stephen Taylor. However, it was well worth the read - despite the huge number of typos and unreadable maps on kindle. I just wish I could upgrade my memory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 25 April 2015
Magnificent book. I have always been a bit of a "Nelson bore" as I consider him to be one of the greatest Englishmen that ever lived. I think I have read just about everything available on Nelson, but I have to say this contri8bution form Roger Knight just has to be my favourite.
"Warts and all" but fair, balanced and not overly reverential...almost the perfect combination for a reader coming to look at Nelson and his life.
The achievements and naval victories of Nelson are well known, but it is very much the man that fascinates me. With so little going for him in terms of stature and health, it is quite remarkable Nelson managed to achieve anything at all! Lesser mortals (such as myself) can only marvel at the man's resilience, fortitude and downright stubbornness.
Anyway, a truly great book and an absorbing read from start to finish. If you are looking to read but one tome on the great man, you could do far worse than to confine yourself to Mr Knight's masterly contribution.
Highest recommendation
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