5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
History at its most compelling,
This review is from: Storm and Conquest: The Battle for the Indian Ocean, 1809 (Hardcover)
Other reviews have summarised and praised book and author and I can only agree whole-heartedly. Taylor has researched thoroughly and chosen a set of events that stand well on their own. However, as a book it is written to entertain and I think the author is clear where he 'visualises' events that could not have been recorded and generously credits his sources in the text itself (usually William Hickey).
For me the book has particular interest as one of my ancestors was 4th Officer on the Ceylon in July 1810. He was injured in the action and taken prisoner. Taylor's descriptions of the island of Ile de France and the chivalry of the French especially to courageous opponents are fascinating and left me wondering at the contrast between the cruel mayhem of battle and the apparently civilised aftermath.
As others have said Storm & Conquest is a study of personalities and characteristics; the measured and ultimately courageous Barlow, Governor of Madras who stood up almost single handedly to the White Mutiny and the long-term infidelity of his wife to boot. Yet the British political system ensured that as a commoner he would get no credit. On the other hand Taylor uses the measured and capable Captain Rowley as a counter-point to the serially irresponsible zealots, Corbin and Willoughby among others and through this illustrates the deep rooted flaws of character in the Royal Navy at that time.
This is an enormously satisfying book to read on many levels with a terrific human dimension.