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on 25 January 2015
As an admitted History Buff,I knew very little about this man, who has remained in the shadows of history,(at least as far as the non accademic community was concerned)',whereas Nelson his contemporary is so well known for good reasonto us all
Now this excellently, recently researched book, has been published,and is the best, most informative, exciting, and enjoyable read that I have had in a long time.(I really could not put it down)
Even if you are not that interested in History, this mans life story (Excellently retold here) is more exciting to read than any "Hornblower Novel,
indeed if it were a novel, many would claim that the exploits claimed must be over exagerated.
He was a truly Heroic, and decent Commander whose exploits deserve to be much better known.
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on 11 June 2015
I liked the Captain Pellew character as played by Robert Lindsay in the TV Hornblower series; I did not know he was (based on) a real person. This book is diligently researched and well-written. It is an account of an amazing and inspiring life, similar in many ways to another renegade RN captain of only slightly later - Thomas Cochrane. This is one of those "just one more page" books and I had a few late nights because of it :-). I will not repeat the good things said in other reviews here but will simply back them up - they are all correct. This is a good story, an excellent read for anybody interested in the wooden walls era of the Royal Navy and best of all - its true!.
Would make a fantastic biopic (as would the Thomas Cochrane story).
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on 21 July 2013
I had never really heard about this Naval Commander but was so glad that I picked this book. From the beginning, this well-researched, informative and beautifully written biography gripped my interest, and held it to the end. It could be said that the eventful life of this extraordinary character writes itself, but Mr Taylor's biography captures almost the smells of life in the Royal Navy at the turn of the 18th and 19th Centuries. No wonder Captain Pellew was the inspiration (probably) for Captain Jack Aubrey and also used by C S Forrester as Hornblower's mentor. The life of this great seaman and fighter was full of adventure and incident, but the foibles and some flaws of character are also well-described and add to the fullness of the picture we get of this extraordinary figure and his family. If anyone doubts that the Royal Navy was generally a meritocracy, even in the late 1700s, then they should read this book - a kind of Naval rags to riches story.
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on 6 January 2017
An excellent biography of one of the lesser known heroes of the age of sail. I have only given four stars because I felt the ship actions could have been described more vividly. This book is however well researched and gives a particularly vivid image of the man behind the exploits, his passion for naval service and how he won the admiration of his crew and nurtured enduring friendships with both colleagues and enemies.
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on 15 April 2015
I was expecting something very long and a bit too academic, but it's not. It's aimed at someone who's interested in the history, but does necessarily want vast amounts of detail. It almost reads like a novel, and what a story, amazing what the guy got up to and how he managed to survive.

Although he was a frigate captain it's not all of his career, but I suppose it's titled as it is because he may not have been our greatest admiral.

It doesn't hold back from criticism of him either .

I'm just about to look for other books by the same author...
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on 24 June 2013
Whereas every Englishman has heard of Admiral Nelson and his exploits, not many could have heard of Edward Pellew, his contemporary in the annuls of the English Navy. Born of a peasant background in Devon, he rose through the ranks to the highest levels of command and became a Lord - but he never convinced his more illustrious colleagues of his worth. Commanding many notable conflicts on the high seas, he had a reputation for leading from the front and gained the confidence of his men. This is the story of his life, told in a very readable way, although some of the periods of time covered are, perhaps, too drawn out at times.
Altogether, though, a very good read and a book that should be read alongside the exploits of Nelson, whose aura has always been raised higher than that of Pellew. Professionally, there was little to choose between them.
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on 25 January 2013
I confess to being slightly put off by the title, as there are many heroic claims put forward for outstanding seamen of the Napoleonic Wars.

Yet this is one of the best books I have read for years - in the barely able to put it down category. Set in a time when the very best of our seamen rose to the surface and national acclaim, as they fought & prevailed fearlessly against impossible odds, Stephen Taylor's painstakingly comprehensive research has highlighted the place that Edward Pellew deserves amongst his illustrious peer group.

If the full detail of some of the battles that Edward Pellew fought & won were known, it would probably appear to be a work of complete fiction. A warrior in the great British tradition, completely fearless & totally musket-ball proof. A great read.
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VINE VOICEon 14 December 2013
I confess I only knew of Sir Edward Pellew from his fictional character in C S Foresters Hornblower books. This biography by Stephen Taylor tells the true life story of a boy who started life with little money and no influence, who became one of, if not the greatest frigate captains of the Napoleonic era. Taylor explains how a combination of natural skill, great courage and good luck propelled Pellew from the lowest to the highest ranks of the Royal Navy and on into the House of Lords.

This is no dry history book as Taylor's easy style of writing makes for easy reading and I found the book as hard to put down as a C S Forester novel. Very well done Mr Taylor.
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on 7 August 2014
A good book for 19th century Naval buffs and also from the sociological aspect a great introduction to a world of privilege, interest, patronage, nepotism, and false muster. It shows how some naval officers e.g. Fleetwood Pellew could achieve post captain in their teens whilst others were lucky to reach lieutenant by their mid to late 20s e.g. William Bligh. It also shows, in this age of slow communications, the power invested in individual Naval commanders to make major decisions abroad on behalf of the nation.
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on 5 December 2013
Sometimes a biography can be a very good way to approach a historical period and this one ticks all the boxes. Pellew was involved in a lot of campaigns, he was an important figure and he was also involved in other interesting events that don't enter into a history limited to one period.

In particular I had never heard of the siege of Algiers in 1816 because it doesn't really fit into any of the normal chronological divisions of the history of the period. Highlight of the book (which is saying something given his achievements during the Napoleonic era). Could be part of a history of slavery but seeing as the thousands of slaves he rescued were Europeans...
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