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The Pursuit of Victory : The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson Hardcover – 7 Jul 2005
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My prayers have been answered with Roger Knight's The Pursuit of Victory. -- Flora Fraser, The Daily Telegraph
Probably the best single-volume Life that we are ever likely to see. -- Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Guardian
The starting point of Roger Knight's magnificent new biography is to explain how Nelson achieved such extraordinary success. Knight places him firmly in the context of the Royal Navy of the time. He analyses Nelson's more obvious qualities, his leadership strengths and his coolness and certainty in battle, and also explores his strategic grasp, the condition of his ships, the skill of his seamen and his relationships with the officers around him including those who could hardly be called friendly. This biography takes a cool look at Nelson's status as a hero and demolishes many of the myths that were so carefully established by the early authors, and repeated by their modern successors. Nelson was a shrewd political operator who charmed and impressed political leaders and whose advancement was helped by the relatively weak generation of admirals above him. He was a difficult subordinate, only happy when completely in command, and capable of great ruthlessness. He was flawed, but brilliant - and not to be crossed.See all Product description
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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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Badly treated by the ones that benefited most by hips existence. Thank you.