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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview of the men who aided Nelson, 20 Jan 2003
By 
Simon Ingram "Simon" (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nelson and His Captains (Penguin Classic Military History) (Paperback)
As a keen student of the life and career of Admiral Nelson, I have read a considerable amount of material on him, but this book stands out as one of the most interesting and readable of them all.
The facts of Nelson's life have been covered extensively in many works, and he still manages to cause controversy even now. Military and naval history is not particularly 'trendy' in academic historical circles at the moment, but this period continues to exert a fascination on the popular mind, as the continued success of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, and the naval novels of C. S. Forrester and Patrick O'Brian demonstrate.
What Ludovic Kennedy's book does, and which marks it out as outstanding in the genre, is that it shifts the focus slightly away from Nelson himself to his 'Band of Brothers' (a much earlier one than Stephen Ambrose's current success story!), the loyal group of captains who served under and with him. It follows Nelson's career through the lives of those captains in famous battles and blockade duty from the Mediterranean to the Channel to the Baltic.
Kennedy tells this story in a fast-paced and readable way, while remaining scholarly throughout. There are stirring descriptions of ship-to-ship combat, mixed with anecdotes about the interlinked lives and romantic rivalries of a group of remarkable young and not so young men who came under the influence of one of the most dynamic and talented naval commanders of that, or indeed any, age.
In short I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to any student or fan of Nelson, the age of sail or late 18th-early 19th Century naval history, as well as anyone who has ever enjoyed the adventures of Hornblower, Bolitho or Aubrey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A quality book by a quality author., 7 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Nelson and His Captains (Penguin Classic Military History) (Paperback)
Cannot understand why I have not come across this book before now. Written in an easy style, full of interest from start to finish. I have learned more about the Royal Navy at the time of the Napoleonic Wars than I have ever learned from several well-known and loved series of fictional naval heroes of that time. Before reading this book I have been most erroneous in my appreciation of which captains served under Nelson at Trafalgar, and who did was not.

I particularly enjoyed learning of both the background, conduct, and quality of those sea captains who served with Nelson not just at the Battle of Trafalgar, but at his other famous seas battles also, from the Battle of Cape St Vincent to beyond the Battle of Trafalgar. Something else that I could not help noticing was how many of these men took part, years before, in the Battle of the Saints in the Caribbean Sea.

I would happily recommend this book to anyone interested in the Royal Navy who might happen to think they know all there is to know of the 'Nelson touch'. My own personal favourites were Thomas Freemantle and Alexander Ball, both of whom I had never heard of before now. I was also much taken with Sir James Saumarez.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone at all interested in British history, and in the Royal Navy of Nelson's time in particular.
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Nelson and His Captains (Penguin Classic Military History)
Nelson and His Captains (Penguin Classic Military History) by Ludovic Kennedy (Paperback - 27 Sep 2001)
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