Top positive review
10 of 10 people found this helpful
on 5 January 2013
This is one of the most thrilling books I have ever read. A pity the maps are rather perfunctory - and they could have ranged far wider. But that's the only complaint I have.
Everyone, of course, has heard of Nelson - and others such as Codrington. But who has heard of Edward Pellew? No one that I know. However, his name is doubtless well-known in Falmouth. Stepen Taylor's excellent book puts this right with a terrific flourish and every trainee officer in the Royal Navy should read it.
What helps the story is that the author writes with verve and panache which makes his well-researched material sparkle and gives it pace. Moreover, his terseness and concise sentences add authority and aid comprehension.
The subject of the book, Edward Pellew, is truly awe-inspiring. He was both a talented seaman and breathtakingly courageous in all aspects of the savage battles his ships were involved in. Fit and tough, even in his 40s he swung up aloft to read the weather conditions or the lie of enemy shipping in the interests of making a better battle appreciation. The scope of his achievements over 30 years at sea was magnificent. To his lifelong chagrin he was not at Trafalgar.
Frigate captains, it seems, had very considerable independence and fought many ship-to-ship battles separate to actions involving the fleet. Prize money from successful encounters was mind-boggling and Sir Edward found that his activities produced toothsome results.
I thought that the most rivetting naval action commanded by Pellew was the last. Meticulously planned and bravely fought, the bombardment of Algiers tamed the Corsairs on the Barbary coast to discourage the little-known practise of the enslavement of Christians - though this appalling trade took further measures to eradicate.
If indeed he was the inspiration for Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey, then he is indeed a worthy figure.
A splendid book.