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Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle (2004)

by Roy Adkins

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5661134,616 (3.85)9
This is the true story of the Battle of Trafalgar, Britain's most significant sea battle, as seen through the smoke-hazed gunports of the fighting ships. In an atmosphere of choking fumes from cannon and musket fire, amid noise so intense it was almost tangible, the crews of the British, French and Spanish ships did their best to carry out their allotted tasks. For over five hours they were in constant danger from a terrifying array of iron and lead missiles fired from enemy guns, as well as the deadly wooden splinters smashed from the ships' hulls by the cannon-balls. While the men manoeuvred the ships and kept the cannons firing, the women helped the surgeons tend the sick or helped the boys - the 'powder monkeys' - in the hazardous job of carrying gunpowder cartridges from the central magazine to the gun decks. Trafalgar set the seal on British naval supremacy, which became the mainspring for the growth of the British Empire, and in the short term not only prevented Napoleon from invading Britain, but also enabled Britain and its Continental allies to mount the campaign that would eventually defeat the French Emperor: without Trafalgar there would be no Waterloo.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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 |
After reading Adkins' The War for All the Oceans, I was somewhat weary about reading this book. The War for All the Oceans was basically a summary of history of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. It didn't even cover the Battle of Trafalgar, opting to recommend the author's book about it.

I a very glad that I read this book. While only about a third of the book is about the actual battle, the background, conditions, and repercusions are detailed well. The perspective this gives makes the importance of Trafalgar more clear. There are many excerpts from letters and publications from around the time of the battle. There are several sections where I found the author repeating stories and ideas that had previously been covered, but this was simply a minor annoyance. On the whole, this book is well researched and well written. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ( )
  ASBiskey | Aug 5, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roy Adkinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lång, ÖjevindTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salvetti, JorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Lesley, for everything
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The first shots from the French ship Fougueux fell short, but the enemy fleet sailed steadily closer, slowly reducing the range.
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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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This is the true story of the Battle of Trafalgar, Britain's most significant sea battle, as seen through the smoke-hazed gunports of the fighting ships. In an atmosphere of choking fumes from cannon and musket fire, amid noise so intense it was almost tangible, the crews of the British, French and Spanish ships did their best to carry out their allotted tasks. For over five hours they were in constant danger from a terrifying array of iron and lead missiles fired from enemy guns, as well as the deadly wooden splinters smashed from the ships' hulls by the cannon-balls. While the men manoeuvred the ships and kept the cannons firing, the women helped the surgeons tend the sick or helped the boys - the 'powder monkeys' - in the hazardous job of carrying gunpowder cartridges from the central magazine to the gun decks. Trafalgar set the seal on British naval supremacy, which became the mainspring for the growth of the British Empire, and in the short term not only prevented Napoleon from invading Britain, but also enabled Britain and its Continental allies to mount the campaign that would eventually defeat the French Emperor: without Trafalgar there would be no Waterloo.

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