Nelson : The Man and the Legend
Horatio Nelson was a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator, and those who look to find a saint besides will miss the man. In private life as in war he was ruthless. A fanatic for duty, at times beyond all sense, he was also a royalist so infatuated with the divine right of kings that he began to see himself as an instrument of God. No one expects so great a marshal as Napoleon to be a saint as well, but Nelson has been encumbered with his own romantic legend, which he helped to create. The real Nelson was a man whose mind was, in his own words, fixed as fate, whose instinct was not just to defeat the enemy but annihilate him. At the height of his fame he was half unhinged, a generous man who wanted his wife dead, besotted with Emma Hamilton but jealously unsure of her, at odds with his honourable father whose funeral he did not attend, at law with his old mentor Earl St Vincent over prize money, and damning the Lords of the Admiralty as a set of beasts. Written with access to almost entirely original letters and documents and with full apparatus, Terry Coleman has given us a penetrating and original picture of an unfamiliar Nelson.
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- Hardback | 416 pages
- 158 x 236 x 46mm | 859.99g
- 05 Nov 2001
- Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- London, United Kingdom
- illustrations, (some colour ) maps, portraits, (some colour ) facsimiles, (some colour )
Given the slew of biographies of Nelson over the years, it's a foolhardy author who tackles the subject unless he has something new to say. Coleman clearly does, and this fresh critical look at the man behind the romantic legend is clear-eyed and insightful. There remains a huge, enduring interesting in Nelson and the period, but Coleman felt that previous classic biographies were out of date. His new study has been written almost entirely utilising original letters and documents, offering a much-needed reappraisal of the complex man. Horatio Nelson was a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator, and those looking for an airbrushed, sanitised job will not find that here. Coleman is after the essence of the man, and shows that in private life as in war, he was a ruthless figure, so infatuated with the divine right of kings that he began to see himself as an instrument of God. Coleman's study of Thomas Hardy showed that he was a biographer of rare skill, and this is likely to remain the definitive study of Nelson for many years.
About Terry Coleman
Terry Coleman, as a political journalist, interviewed eight prime ministers, from Macmillan to Blair, and in 1988 was named journalist of the year. His previous books include a biographical study of Thomas Hardy and Passage to America, a history of nineteenth century emigration.