The book exposes its lack of military expertise. It misses the most important point of the Admiral’s last and the most decisive battle in 1805: His game plan, his strategy against the Franco-Spanish armada, which was much larger and better-armed than his British Royal Navy at the time.
While that missing expertise disappoints a bit, the book, as a matter of fact, covers the Admiral’s early life and his early career as a Naval Officer well enough.
The significance of this man's achievement in our world history is truly immense. He, at the risk of his own life with so many fatal wounds, was the one who thwarted Napoleon’s grand plan to conquer the world through global ocean.
If he failed in the Battle of Nile (1798) and of Trafalgar (1805), we, today, would have been living in a totally different world.
Even the English language wouldn’t be the international official language without the maritime empire Great Britain’s global domination throughout the 19th century, followed by another English-speaking nation America’s global hegemony in the following 20th century, which’s been lasting until these very days.
The hero’s life-story teaches us a lot of lessons, lending us his insight to deal with our own times.
(Kindle Ed., p. 8)
On April 8, 1777, Horatio Nelson had obtained the rank of lieutenant after passing examinations held by the Navy Board of which his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling, was the head. Captain Suckling had kept his relationship to Horatio a secret in order to avoid favoritism and possible later claims of nepotism. And Horatio, performing better than many of his peers, proved that he could pass his examinations with flying colors...
We the People often conceive any practice based on family connection as misconduct and symbol of corruption, but seriously, it is about the talent, not about the personal relationship: If his uncle hadn't picked him up in the Royal Navy, only considering his reputation and the social scrutiny, Great Britain would never have won the war against Napoleon and would never have made its national dream as the global hegemon.
FYI, it was exactly the same with the case of Admiral Lee (Check out Admiral Lee and the First Global War by Young H. D. Kim). What would have happened if Minister Lieu hadn't put Lee in the seat of Navy Admiral in fear of his society pointing out their old friendship?
What I like most about this book is that it plainly talks about the French fire power superior to the British at the time.
(Kindle Ed., pp. 33-34)
...While Napoleon launched his land campaign, Nelson searched for the French fleet and finally found it parked outside Egypt’s Aboukir Bay on August 1, 1798. Once confronted, instead of setting sail the fleet, whose firepower was superior to Nelson’s, decided to remain anchored and fire upon the British from its defensive position.
They better stop talking in their books as if the British Navy was always stronger than the French Navy. What would they really think of that conventional misconception after they read these lines? What would they think after they hear about the British Navy pounded and grounded by the French Navy at York Town and elsewhere during the American War of Independence?
Being an island nation doesn't mean it has the most powerful navy, though I see the reason, and likewise, being a continental power with feared ground forces doesn't have to mean its navy is weaker than another nation in an island.
His fatherland Great Britain was in the middle of its grand challenge against the French hegemony to win the global domination for itself. For that cause, throughout his life in combat after combat against the French and its allies like the newly-born United States, he grew grudging hatred against the French.
(Kindle Ed., p. 25)
“Firstly, you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your King; and thirdly you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.” —Horatio Nelson
It is understandable: This man lost one eye and an arm in his battles against the Franco-Spanish hegemonic power (despite its still-remaining, massive overseas colonies, Spain had been like a French-proxy state since the War of Spanish Throne in the early 18th century). And he had to live with an ugly bullet scar in his forehead due to the French fire power.
(Kindle Ed., p. 34)
Unfortunately for Nelson, he just happened to be on the deck of his ship right when one of these retaliatory volleys were being launched and had a bullet graze right into his forehead. It would prove to be a non-lethal flesh wound, but the sight was shocking nonetheless. Nelson appeared to have been struck a mortal blow as he fell to the ground, profusely bleeding from his head with bloody tissue from the wound drooping over his only seeing eye, effectively blinding him.
He experienced defeats, and many times he was fatally wounded, but thanks to his courageous leadership and sacrifice, his outgunned, outsized and outnumbered British Navy won the most decisive battles against the French in the ocean. Somehow they ended up outmaneuvering the French Navy, and I find the reason from their islander-nature that was to raise such fine seamanship for the country (You can see how they trained their young boys to be great seamen in the early part of the book).
(Kindle Ed., p. 3)
In Horatio Nelson’s day, one of the ways that you could hope to rise in the ranks of the Navy was to enter into service from the days of your youth as a cabin boy...
This was the secret of the English Royal Navy’s invincible power, combined with its innovative fire power emphasized since Henry VIII, which only the French guns could be match for in the world.
(Kindle Ed., pp. 36-37)
...the Kingdom of Naples firmly on the British side, with the king formally declaring war on France. King Ferdinand directed the Neapolitan army to recapture Rome from French forces on November 26, 1798. The reconquest initially seemed to be successful, but after being driven out, the French immediately regrouped and were able to counterattack the Neapolitan army with such force that they were sent fleeing back to Naples. Nelson, realizing that the momentum was now on the side of the French, arranged to evacuate the king’s family and entourage, with his close friends Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton included on that list. All of these notable members of Naples were safely relocated to Palermo on December 26, just before the French overran Naples...
Today the power of France is widely ignored due to the recent history of German occupation in 1871 and 1940s. This is a typical mistake we make seeing the past events through the prism of our times and standards. To the people in the 18th century was France the most powerful European super power or not? Wasn’t she?
(Kindle Ed., pp. 40-41)
But while Nelson’s eye was on Denmark, Napoleon was eyeing Great Britain. Fearing an imminent invasion, Nelson was called back to bolster the defenses of the English Channel. In the next few years, however, the fires of war died down in Europe. After temporary armistices and most importantly the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, which officially ended hostility with France, many believed that the long-feared French invasion of England had been averted. In reality, it had only been delayed. It took him a few years of consolidation, but on May 18, 1804, Napoleon had been declared emperor and was now the unquestioned ruler of the newly christened French Empire. And in less than a year after his coronation, Napoleon was bent on striking Britain once again. French ships had been spotted headed toward the English Channel in late October 1805. On October 21, Nelson ordered his fleet to intercept the charging French ships. Curiously enough, as if he fully realized the gravity of the situation, Nelson is said to have quietly gone below deck to write his final will and testament. Then after he engaged in brief prayer, the two opposing fleets met, and the most horrific of battles ensued. The fighting was terrible from the beginning with one of Nelson’s aides, a man named John Scott, getting hit at point-blank range with a cannonball, almost slicing him in half. The next onslaught took out the steering wheel of Nelson’s vessel—the inability to steer the craft serving as a grim reminder that there was quite literally no turning back. But the ship had 80 guns and, even without proper steering, could swivel those guns around to create havoc on any ships that were in its path. The first enemy ship to directly engage Nelson’s crew was the French flagship called Redoutable.
The old European hegemon France was a grave danger and the toughest threat to Great Britain. It's proven with the continuous British failure after failure, including those efforts led by Nelson as described in this book, dealing with Napoleon's French forces everywhere except in Egypt. And the author skips far from the French and British fleets meeting in front of the Spanish Cape Trafalgar (THE LOCATION ISN’T EVEN MENTIONED) to the Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory directly encountering the enemy flagship.
Without the description of that surprising British maneuver planned and led by the daring and courageous leadership of Nelson, which allowed his flagship to contact the French flagship surrounded and protected in the middle of all other enemy vessels, this story of the great Battle of Trafalgar means nothing. But the book's about Nelson's entire life, and with that job well-done, the book still saves at least three stars.
(Kindle Ed., pp. 38-39)
...Nelson, a staunch believer in military justice, viewed this man as the ultimate kind of traitor and demanded his immediate court-martial for his act of treason. Nelson had the man tried and hanged on the same day. After enacting this swift justice, Nelson made his return to England on November 8, 1800. Like usual, he received honor and applause wherever he went, but creating a curious side spectacle was the entourage that Nelson brought with him; he came arm in arm with none other than the Hamiltons. And it was soon noted by many at the endless social affairs held in Horatio Nelson’s honor that while he often remained emotionally detached to his wife at these functions, he was strangely affectionate to Emma Hamilton. This was too much of an embarrassment for Frances Nelson to withstand, and she demanded of her husband to pick which woman he was going to be with. To this, Nelson gave the flat and perfunctory response, “I love you sincerely but I cannot forget my obligations to Lady Hamilton or speak of her otherwise than with affection and admiration.”
He and Admiral Lee were just alike both as a military leader and a man by nature (Check out the book Admiral Lee and the First Global War). They were just damn-honest Human Beings. They didn't pretend or play, and so they could win the “real” actions, though many people, both men and women, hate that kind of honesty making them uncomfortable and inhumane. Ironically this inhumanity saves our complex humanity for our lovely next generations.
If there weren’t Horatio Nelson on the British side, the rising British power would decline with French Empire as the remaining global hegemon for a while until a third party rose to replace the tired giant French Empire.
(Kindle Ed., p. 43)
...Although some critics maintain that the man was nothing more than a vainglory thrill seeker who sought the accolades of the public, Nelson still stands—just as his statue still stands in London’s Trafalgar Square—as a bulwark against nationalist excess and oppression. One only has to consider the consequences if Nelson had failed in his mission. What if the French had broken through and Napoleon had successfully invaded Britain? What world would we live in today as a result...?
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In a world where heroism and self-sacrifice sometimes seem to be in short supply, the exploits of the famed Admiral Horatio Nelson stand out to us as a refreshing reminder. His noble actions serve to show us of what it means to go above and beyond the call of duty and to put petty differences aside for the greater good. But of course, this is only part of the story. Because despite the larger-than-life legend that two centuries have brought us, Horatio Nelson was not some swashbuckling caricature, he was a real flesh and blood human being, just as flawed as the rest of us.
Inside you will read about...
✓ Fighting American Revolutionaries and Malaria
✓ Nelson the Enforcer
✓ Nelson Takes on the Spanish
✓ The One-Eyed and One-Armed Admiral
✓ The Hero and His Mistress
And much more!
The same man who saved Britain, couldn’t save his marriage. The man who was faithful to God and Country beyond anything else had several mistresses and fathered a child out of wedlock. The truth is even heroes aren’t perfect. This book gets beyond the two-dimensional figure we learned about in grade school and delves deep into the true character of Horatio Nelson.
Series Information: Military Biographies Book 5