Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
Less than enjoyable.
on 13 April 2002
I have just spent the last 4 weeks, on & off, trying to finish this fairly thin volume; during that time I've read over 10 other books - I think that indicates the readability of this biography.
The biographer seems more interested in cramming in relatively superfluous information, with scant regard to punctuation with the result that each sentence ends up even longer than this one and I had to re-read many of them several times to make out the sense of what was being implied.
Although meticulously researched, this seems less concerned with Nelson's naval actions and more with his below-the-navel actions. Our biographer seems not to have heard of the Naval Chronicle or Admiralty Papers - the Nile action is dealt with in a page, Copenhagen slightly more, but 2 years in the West Indies occupy less than a page.
Nelson & Bronte (!?!) himself comes out of this looking more like an immature, pretentious, love-struck, egocentric hypochondriac than the Great Hero still revered nearly 2 centuries later. On the plus side, it is apparent that Nelson is loved by his men, whom he clearly cares for, (knowing many of them by name) and is diligent in supporting those less fortunate than himself, both with cash and influence.
The focus on his tawdry menage-a-trois, the stately processions round Britain and his portrait-posing does little to foster the heroic image - in effect we are led to believe that the Nile action was won by luck, Copenhagen by bluff, and Trafalgar by a foolhardy tactic...
I felt sadly let-down and would prefer a more readable, naval-oriented biography.