Nelson's Fleet at Trafalgar by Brian Lavery
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Published on the eve of the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, this handsomely illustrated book paints a vibrant picture of the most famous battle of the age of sail. Unlike other books on the subject, which are told mostly from Nelson's point of view or evaluate the battle's effect on world strategy, this definitive new assessment sees the battle through the eyes of other individuals involved. Using much new and revealing material, Brian Lavery, one of Britain's foremost maritime historians, traces the lives of several officers and men serving in the fleet, from mobilization in 1803 when press gangs were at their most active and brutal, through the next two years as their ships assembled off Cadiz to blockade the combined French and Spanish fleets, to the high drama of the battle itself and its aftermath. The author examines the "Nelson Touch" when the admiral took command of the fleet late in September 1805 and the roles the various ships played in the battle. While never neglecting Nelson, one of the era's greatest naval leaders, Lavery focuses on the human stories behind history to pay tribute to the men under Nelson's command and the professionalism that made Nelson's career and victory at Trafalgar possible. The book draws its illustrations from the fabulously rich resources of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.