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Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle (2004)

af Roy Adkins

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6531234,924 (3.88)9
On October 21, 1805, as Britain's Royal Navy under the command of Horatio Nelson clashed with Napoleon's forces in an epic sea battle off the coast of Spain, the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Though the cost was high--and Nelson himself was killed--the British victory prevented Napoleon from invading Britain and paved the way for the eventual defeat of the French emperor. Without Trafalgar there would have been no Waterloo. The Battle of Trafalgar set Britain on its vast imperial course. Now, on the battle's 200th anniversary, Roy Adkins offers readers a brutally vivid, gunport-level account. Capturing the harsh conditions in which sailors lived and died, the mechanics of nautical warfare, and the relentless violence of 19th century naval combat, this book will be appreciated by fans of military history and Patrick O'Brian.--From publisher description.… (mere)
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Last year, I read a fantasy book about dragons involved in the fighting the Battle of Trafalgar. I got to thinking that I had no idea if what was depicted in that book was accurate or not (well, except for the dragons). I only knew that Horatio Nelson had been killed. This book contains everything you wanted to know about the Battle of Trafalgar – the ships, captains and crews, the initial strategy, the order of battle, which ships fought each other, and numbers of casualties. It contains detailed maps and drawings that portray the battle at various stages. It also includes a description of the violent storm that occurred immediately afterwards – before any of the ships could find port.

It becomes obvious what a horrible time it must have been for the people on board, including cannons and muskets firing point blank, blood flowing underfoot, masts falling overhead, several ships catching fire. No triage was done. The doctors treated people in first come, first-served order, and people bled to death while waiting. With medicine in such an early stage, amputations proliferated. The author provides a vivid depiction of the carnage.

“On the gun decks of those ships in the midst of the conflict, the sailors were working in a suffocating stench of gunpowder smoke, blood, sweat, and burnt and torn skin…Despite having stripped off their shirts before the battle began, they were almost overpowered by the heat of the guns in the confined space. Many men were snow smoke-blackened and covered with dust, streaked by rivulets of sweat running down their faces and bodies. In the cramped gun decks the noise of the battle could be felt as much as heard: a maddening sensation of pressure on the skull…induced by the deafening noise.”

Adkins does a great job of setting the stage and peppering the text with first-hand accounts. I was surprised to find out there were a few women on board, mostly assisting with munitions and the wounded. It is extremely detailed and is told chronologically. I am unsure if the subtitle is fully proven, but it served the intended purpose. It will appeal to anyone interested in Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson, European history of early 1800s, the Age of Sail, or the Napoleonic Wars.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
As you would probably guess by the title, this is a non-fiction book about the most significant naval battle in British history, the battle of Trafalgar. This book blends scholarly history with a little bit of drama which works really well. We learn a little about each of the main players away from the battle, the history of the ships, and how country found itself in this situation. Throughout the book we are also treated to accounts from the actual sailors, thanks to letters they sent home. I found these to be a great insight into the everyday lives of the men and women who served and add real value. Going into this book I knew very little about the actual battle and this is a great book for those who want a strong overview into what happened. ( )
  Brian. | Apr 10, 2021 |
A readable, workmanlike book about the battle. Not a lot of glitz, but good scholarship including many contemporary accounts (even wrongs ones, to show how long it took for the details to get straight). Author Roy Adkins provides a number of maps; unfortunately the ones of the fleet action are too complicated to be clear, with lots of little globby ship silhouettes. I think in order to get a real feel for the battle you would have to war-game it out with miniatures or ship counters. Quite worthwhile, nevertheless. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 15, 2017 |
Excellent....................weaves extracts from contemporary recollections of the events seamlessly into a wonderfully evocative exposition of the battle and its context. ( )
  malcrf | Jun 16, 2011 |
This book covers the navy battle of Trafalgar fought off the Spanish coast during the Napoleonic wars in order to prevent a French naval invasion of Great Britain. This book does becomes somewhat confusing at times, but I believe that to be mostly due to the battle itself being confusing. He does provide several diagrams however of the battle at different points in time as well as portraits of the leading figures in the battle. Finally, he provides information regarding how the battle started and the effects of the battle. The primary effect being that with a large portion of France and Spain's fleets destroyed the invasion of Great Britain was deterred. ( )
  aevaughn | Nov 23, 2010 |
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Lång, ÖjevindOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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The making of Nelson's famous signal. Adkins p. 92cites Nicolas, N. H. 1846, p. 150, The dispatches and letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, Vol. 7, London. About a quarter to noon, Nelson approached Lieutenant John Pasco, his signals officer. Mr. Pasco, I wish to say to the Fleet, ENGLAND CONFIDES THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY. Pasco replied, If your Lordship will permit me to substitute the 'expects' for 'confides' the signal will soon be completed, because the word 'expects' is in the vocabulary, and 'confides' must be spelt. His Lordship replied, in haste, and with seeming satisfaction, That will do, Pasco, make it directly.
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On October 21, 1805, as Britain's Royal Navy under the command of Horatio Nelson clashed with Napoleon's forces in an epic sea battle off the coast of Spain, the fate of Europe hung in the balance. Though the cost was high--and Nelson himself was killed--the British victory prevented Napoleon from invading Britain and paved the way for the eventual defeat of the French emperor. Without Trafalgar there would have been no Waterloo. The Battle of Trafalgar set Britain on its vast imperial course. Now, on the battle's 200th anniversary, Roy Adkins offers readers a brutally vivid, gunport-level account. Capturing the harsh conditions in which sailors lived and died, the mechanics of nautical warfare, and the relentless violence of 19th century naval combat, this book will be appreciated by fans of military history and Patrick O'Brian.--From publisher description.

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