This remarkable book opens at the dawn of the British Empire - with the great sea battle at Quiberon Bay where French ships, intended for the 1759 invasion of Britain, are chased, caught and defeated by a fleet commanded by Admiral Sir Edward Hawke. In this momentous victory Britain effectively settled the outcome of the Seven Years' War and established itself as the world's dominant imperial power.
At the heart of the conflict with France was William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham and Britain's future Prime Minister. Weaving together military history and political biography Edward Pearce provides a portrait of the man 'with an eye like a diamond' - a man who had close ties with the slave trade and who preached war and British supremacy on a world stage. Alongside detailed descriptions of battles in Europe and North America we follow Pitt's career as a politician - one that was closely intertwined with General James Wolfe at Quebec; American independence; the slow mind of George III and the quick one of the rake and outsider John Wilkes.
Edward Pearce scrutinises the real man at the heart of the historical events and mystique surrounding the legacy of Pitt the Elder, to present a rounded and masterful portrait of arguably the most powerful minister ever to guide Britain's foreign policy and of an age which marked a new epoch in history, when the balance of power in Europe and the world was set for almost two centuries.
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Edward Pearce is a political journalist and author. He has been a leader writer for the Daily Express, a Commons sketch writer and leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, a columnist for the Sunday Times and the Guardian, and sketch writer for the New Statesman. He also writes regularly for the Yorkshire Post, and was a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze. He has written over 13 books, from The Senate of Lilliput (1983) to his most recent, The Great Man (2007), a life of Sir Robert Walpole.