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Nelson's Battles (Hardback)

The Triumph of British Seapower

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Wooden Walls Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic > Nelson & Trafalgar

By Nicholas Tracy
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781848320093
Published: 24th July 2008
Last Released: 18th August 2008



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Horatio Nelson was a hero from the time when his dramatic initiative won the battle of St Vincent in 1797, while his last battle, at Trafalgar, reduced the enemy naval forces so thoroughly that they were no longer able to have any bearing on the outcome of the war. As well as being a brilliant study of those naval battles which played such an important role in Napoleon's defeat, it also makes a close study of the admiral's art which, during the last years of the eighteenth century, developed faster than at any time since the previous century and led to Britain's mastery of the seas for more than 100 years. The Seven Years War and the War of the American Revolution stimulated the development of new ideas and the experience gained from them, as well as the developments in ship design and signalling, and the perfection of drill, transformed naval methods. Nelson became a master of them all. This technical prowess, combined with a remarkable ability to lead his men and his genius for making decisive moves, 'the Nelson touch', made him the consummate master of naval warfare. Highly readable, concise and insightful, this new edition will prove a popular choice for those seeking an introduction to naval warfare in the age of sail.

As featured in

Military Illustrated

A fine book, one that conveys not just the historical and technical details of Nelson’s battles but their very atmosphere. From St Vincent to Trafalgar, all Nelson’s battles are here. It’s a handsome, well-presented book, with many illustrations and maps to further explain the information within. Moreover, beyond Nelson’s victories at the Nile and Trafalgar, it also gives a great deal of background detail about the British Navy of Nelson’s day. For the enthusiast and scholar alike.

Hellbound - Steve Earles

This well written book considers not only the battles but also the great admiral himself, and with sympathetic descriptions of his captains and their crews, makes for interesting reading.

The Nautical Magazine - April 2009

Those interested in naval history have much to thank Nicholas Tracey for. Few historians can have a greater knowledge of sailing, naval tactics and the events in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Nelson's Battles is an updated version of the book he published in 1996 incorporating subsequently discovered material, in particular, Nelson's fascinating tactical Trafalgar sketch discovered by Colin White in the British Library. Four of the five chapters are specifically devoted to Nelson's Battles, his professionalism and leadership, and not surprisingly, the tactics involved. Whilst the narrative broadly follows well trodden paths, it is written with authority.
However the fifth, the most interesting and longest chapter makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of British naval philosophy and its implementation over the sailing navy years. It offers detailed explanations of the many aspects that comprise trade protection and power projection, and the art and development of tactics and signals as successive admirals amended, and improved, the fighting instructions continually adding additional signals until Home Pop-ham devised his master system which was used at Trafalgar making possible the most famous of all naval signals. If nothing else, this chapter is worth the price of the book and I cannot wait to read it again.

The Naval review - May 2009
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 Nicholas Tracy

About Nicholas Tracy

NICHOLAS TRACY, having served in the Royal Canadian Navy and undertaken research for the Canadian Directorate of Strategic Analysis, was a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of New Brunswick for over 25 years. His many works on naval history include: Who’s Who in Nelson’s Navy (Chatham, 2006), Britannia’s Palette:  The Arts of Naval Victory, (McGill-Queens UP, 2007), Nelson’s Battles, The Triumph of British Seapower (Seaforth, 2008), and A Two-Edged Sword, the Navy as an Instrument of Canadian Foreign Policy, (Winner of the John Lyman Book Award. McGill-Queens UP, 2012). He lives in Canada.

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