1797: NELSON'S YEAR OF DESTINY by Colin White


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Highly detailed and as exciting as the best Patrick O—Brian novel, this is one of the best accounts of the great British admiral’s dazzling achievements, from the deputy director of England’s Royal Naval Museum. Published to commemorate a pivotal year in the “Nelson decade” (the period from 1795 to 1805, of which the bicentennial is currently being marked), this brief account looks at the period that solidified Nelson’s position as Britain’s chief hope in maintaining her position as the world’s leading maritime power. The author combines outstanding scholarship with narrative skill to capture the excitement of such events as the evacuation of Elba, the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, the blockade of Cadiz, and the attack on Tenerife (in which Nelson lost his arm). White also debunks many of the myths that have surrounded Nelson over the years, such as his supposed disobedience at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent—a “disobedience” that saved the battle and won an earldom for Sir John Jervis, the commanding admiral of the British fleet at St. Vincent. Illustrated throughout by period paintings (unfortunately not in color), the book utilizes boxed sidebars to present new information on Nelson and his battles. This varies in importance, from done-to-death topics like who really cut off Nelson’s arm to such really juicy bits as the revelation that a former Nelson mistress, Adelaide Correglia, spied for him during his blockade of the Italian port of Leghorne (Livorno). Written with sweep and excitement, capturing the spirit of Nelson by looking at one memorable year, this will be a treat for any naval history fan.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7509-1999-X
Page count: 176pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999