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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2009
While Horatio Nelson looms large in the story of the RN in the late 18th and early 19th century it is perhaps the less well known Collingwood who through attention to detail, training, discipline tempered by a deep humanity sought to secure th supremacy of the Royal Navy on the high seas and in t mediterranean. Adams, formerly an archaeologist of great repute, very ably highlights Collingwood the humble man thrust to greatness without seeking to do anything other than his job the best way he could. This book is well written with humour and insight, but essentially it is a story of a hard working very able man doing his very best and excelling in extraordinary times. Collingwood was not a "flash harry" like Nelson, he was neither ostentatiously eccenteric nor did he share confidences with the inner circle at court. What he was was a damn fine sea man, gunner, tactician, diplomat and administrator. It is this history that Adams brings out, which by the very nature of the man of the title it is not thrilling or flash. Collingwood worked hard and excelled but did not seek glory, self publicity or thanks, it is these elements that Adams brings out. A good book for which Max Adams should be praised.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2007
I read this book for interest and information and was not disappointed. It is not "exciting", what it needs for excitement I suppose is sex and violence. When you consider that actual warfare consists of long periods of inactivity and boredom for any given individual the opportunities for either are limited in the context of Collingwoods time at sea. The Admiral's sex life is his own business and the violence when it arrives is very violent indeed and Collingwood would "fight like an angel". But neither is described in great detail here there are more than enough books on these subjects around.

The book does start off with a travalogue which nearly put me off but I stuck with it! What we have is a very interesting portrait of a man who comes, I think, as near our modern idea of what a naval captain of that time should be like, nurtured as we are on a plethora of fictional paradigms. Collingwood's great friend Nelson is dealt with in a very reasoned fashion and doesn't suffer by it.

What is particularly engaging is the wit and humour shown in various snippets from letters and journal included here. I think what we forget in this PC world is that previous generations may have different standards to ours but were three dimensional characters and no less clever or capable than we and their hopes and aspirations and their ability to feel pain no different to ours.

I think this comes across well in this book it is an easy read not because it is simple but because it is well written. If you have an interest in the times and events covered in the years of Collingwood's life and his circle of interest you won't be sorry if you read this! (You may also conclude that Cuthbert stands beside Horatio not slightly behind him.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2009
There is no doubting that Cuthbert Collingwood was a good man. He was renowned by those who served under him for being fair and just and for caring about their welfare. He regarded flogging as a last resort and his men respected him for it. However, Max Adams strives to make him the hero of Trafalgar and the saviour of the nation, whilst taking every opportunity to deride Horatio Nelson's exploits and achievements to make him the lesser man.
Collingwood was totally dedicated to the navy and the service of his country, but Trafalgar was his one real moment of glory. Despite Mr Adams efforts to make it exciting, the rest of his career was no more remarkable than many others of his profession, which is in no way meant as a criticism of Collingwood. The derisory comments about Nelson seem to stem from a great resentment and I doubt Collingwood would approve of this attack on his close friend. They are both unnecessary and very irritating. Whatever the opinion one may have about Nelson, his career should not be tarnished to make another shine more brightly; that is the stuff of politicians.
This is the first time I have been glad to finish a book. I keep it for reference, but can in no way recommend it. It could have been so much better if Collingwood's achievements had been examined without comparison.

With regard to Stratman's review, Jack Aubrey was based on Lord Thomas Cochrane, who's real life expolits were more remarkable than fiction.
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Considering the importance of men like Admiral Collingwood, I felt that this book was more than a little flat for me as a reader. He was a man with a sense of humour, a man who had worked his way up and when added to the fact that he was a contemporary as well as a rival of Nelson’s all round meant to me that his book should have really stood out.

Yes the author did their research, yes the piece had all the information required, but when you write a biography of someone as magnetic as Collingwood, you need to add more than a little polish to allow readers to grasp not only his brilliance but also to get a fuller flavour of the man himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2014
Reads well. A good example of thorough research and also enough to encourage us to stay at Collingwood House at Port Mahon!
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on 17 June 2015
I thoroughly recommend this book. Max Adams has fluent and lucid prose style which is a pleasure to read. The book is clearly very well researched and the amount of background historical information to particular events and battles is just right, helpful and clear but not too much.
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on 18 December 2014
Shameful how this man who dedicated most of his life to the service of his country is largely unknown. But Nelson wouldn't have been half the hero he was if he hadn't bumped into Cuthbert Collingwood. Nelson thought the world of Collingwood - and that's good enough for me.
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on 30 July 2013
Bought this as a present for a naval history enthusiast and my comments are therefore based on his back to me. Well written and full of factual information about this good friend of Admiral Lord Nelson.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Being a hugely avid fan of British Napoleonic history this was one book I had to get. After learning so much of Collingwood by reading so much of Nelson, a modern biography was long overdue. The book itself was sumptiously packaged with an excellent jacket and rich colour plates inside however I found the text to be of a different nature. At first I thought that this biography was simply a masters thesis, a work of acadamia such was the stuffy narrative and lack of enthusiasm. I wasn't excited at all and turing a page became a chore rather than a joy. It occurred to me that the author may have approached this biography with the general reader in mind but lacked the required flair to tell a great story. Mercifully, the book is but 300 odd pages in large print so that its easy to move onto something a little more exciting. For me this was Harvey's bio of Cochrane. Overall, it's a great intoduction to a man that sacrificed his life for the service of his country and does supply some interesting perspectives on Nelson.
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on 9 November 2014
My husbands hero, as ex R.N himself, it was important to get the right book on this wonderful important man, often over looked in favour of Lord Nelson sadly.
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