Sugden brilliantly interweaves graphic accounts of Nelson's famous victories at the battles of the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar with his lesser-known yet equally gripping campaigns to liberate the Italian states from French domination and his role in the blockade of Malta, often snatching remarkable triumphs from crippling reverses. But behind his military prowess was a man riven with paradoxes and schisms at the very heart of his personal life.
Nelson emerges as a strong-minded but vulnerable human being in constant need of affection and reassurance, whose relations with superiors, colleagues and friends were intense and stormy. We meet the fighting admiral in search of ultimate military victory, and the glory-hunter skillfully manipulating his public image; the national hero and patron of merit, and the indigent commoner trying to secure his position in a society dominated by wealth, property and land; the family man, and the adulterer who scandalized society by his passion for the mercurial Lady Hamilton - yet whose ambition for domestic tranquility was destroyed by his untimely death at Trafalgar.
The triumphant and the tragic lend an epic yet human quality to the life of Nelson, fully exploited here in a richly detailed narrative that teems with a glittering array of sailors and civilians, heroes and villains, husbands, wives and lovers.
Like its predecessor, this second volume is a superb evocation of a life of far greater complexity than most of us would have expected. Dr Sugden's enthusiasm for the subject is evident, but always moderated by judicious evaluation. A fascinating account of the whole period through the perspective of the critical naval actors.
And beautifully written, with a rare glitch -"Cold reality cut through the frivolity at Palermo like a hot knife through butter" - made even odder in light of Vol 1's account of how Nelson issued orders for surgeon's knives to be warmed after his own experience of the cold steel of amputation.
Highly recommended. Posted by Mr Michael Layden Hardback recommendation
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Sweeping, thrilling and psychologically acute, this second volume in John Sugden’s biography will hardly be bettered...this book is a monumental achievement. Some readers may be daunted by its length, but the investment of time and effort is unquestionably worth it... It is a tribute to Sugden’s skill that as Nelson lies stricken below desks, gasping for air, blood pouring into his chest, his officers biting back the tears and Hardy desperately wringing his hand, you pray that somehow, against all sense and reason, England’s greatest hero might just pull through - Sunday Times
An absolutely excellent book. Every bit is beautifully judged - Evening Standard
The Last eight years of his [Nelson’s] life dealt with in thrilling, monumental detail - Sunday Times
John Sugden has written a splendid book about this great Christian warrior - Tablet
There isn’t the slightest hint of modishness in Sugden’s study, which not only has all the old-fashioned scholarly virtues but is also, in the time-honoured tradition of naval history, a thumping good read - Scotsman
John Sugden’s utterly epic Nelson: The Sword of Albion is the longest, richest, most absorbing biography I’ve ever read… Sugden’s book is of Tolstoyan dimensions - Daily Mail
A superb biography - Sunday Telegraph
An authoritative account of Nelson’s dramatic naval and personal life... In prose of admiral clarity Sugden binds together the strategy, tactics and of course battles, with powerful evocations of their tumult and horror, into lively narrative - Spectator
A good read - Spectator
Meticulous in its coverage, acute in its psychological assessments, and gripping in its accounts of his game-changing victories - Sunday Times
A book of consistent clarity of writing and argument. It weaves a rich tapestry around the Admiral - Times Literary Supplement
John Sugden’s achievement is to understand both Nelson the admiral and Nelson the tortured individual ... These two volumes exemplify the art of biography ... They are, and will remain, indispensible - Literary Review
Dr John Sugden has pursued a busy trans-Atlantic career as a lecturer, senior research fellow and writer. He is the author of a series of acclaimed articles and books, including Sir Francis Drake, Tecumseh: A Life, which won the Distinguished Book Award of the American Society for Military History, and Blue Jacket, which won the Ohioana Award. His fascination with Nelson stems from childhood, and he decided to write a complete life of Nelson when he discovered large amounts of untapped material whilst completing his doctorate in naval and political history.