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Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm

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Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm
By Tim Clayton and Phil Craig
Hodder & Stoughton (2005)
ISBN: 978-0340830284

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - September 12, 2011

On October 21, 1805 a vast British fleet lead by Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated a combined fleet of French and Spanish vessels. Known as the Battle of Trafalgar, this was one of the greatest sea battles fought during the Age of Sail. Although outnumbered by enemy vessels, Nelson lead the British Royal Navy to a momentous victory that is still spoken of today. It was also a battle that cost Nelson his life. In Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm, Tim Clayton and Phil Craig present a rousing narrative that tells the story of the men, and ships, that saw service that day off the coast of Spain.

The Battle of Trafalgar was but one event during the long period of enmity that raged between the British and the French, running more or less non-stop from 1798-1815, often referred to as the Napoleonic wars, after the French leader at the time, the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. In many ways the Battle of Trafalgar spelled personal defeat for Napoleon and the turning of the war solidly in favor of the British.

In this gripping book, the authors describe the battle, the men who fought in it, and their ships. The narrative concentrates primarily on the heroics of the leading officers on both sides as well as providing detailed descriptions of the actual battle and the tactics used. The authors also touch upon the numerous women who served on the various ships (mostly with their husbands), on both sides of the conflicts, and of the action they saw that day. A list of all the ships that saw service that day, as well as the highest ranking officer on each ship, is provided at the beginning of the text. Most intriguing of all, scattered throughout this book you will find excerpts from speeches, letters, and other documents that were written by the men who participated in the battle that bloody day.

The publication of Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm coincided with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Written for a general audience, this vibrant account of the battle is as gripping as a novel, and equally hard to put down. The book is obviously very well researched, and it provides one of the most through accounts of the battle that I've ever read. It is one of the few that provides an unbiased account from both the vantage point of the British and the combined French and Spanish fleet. The authors also describe the horrific storm that hounded the weary survivors of the battle, and the impact that the battle had in regards to Britain gaining dominion over the seas.

Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm is a well-written book. It is also one that I highly recommend for anyone interested in the Battle of Trafalgar, military history, or sea battles in the Age of Sail. This book also serves as an excellent introduction to the battle, and is also a diverting and informative book that will please anyone simply wishing to read a compelling and rousing true story about the heroic men and women who fought in one of the most pivotal sea battles of the nineteenth century.

Related Reviews:

Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle that Changed the World, by Roy Adkins.
A vivid account of the Battle of Trafalgar told from the British viewpoint.

Napoleon and the British, by Stuart Semmel.
An intriguing social history of Britain during the Napoleonic era that examines the public perceptions of Napoleon and how he influenced Britain's political, religious, and social development.

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