Nelson: The Sword of Albion
“Then something surprising happened,” writes this beguiling author. It certainly does, not only on that occasion but throughout. Falling in love with The Sword of Albion and faithful to the end, I am no more capable of moderation than were the admiral and his magnificent, preposterous Emma. These are thoughts from a Nelson ignoramus on a work of startling brilliance. A worldwide situation of success, calamity and horrible mistakes: what are the Russians doing, or the Austrians? The correspondence alone is prodigious. Each episode brings revelation; quiet reflection is desirable to absorb and sort out what has been learned.
Nelson: that once-in-a-century blend of self-confidence and anguished vulnerability. Personal relationships were vital to this phenomenal man and sea master: fellow and junior officers, like Nelson, seemingly worn out with sickness and exhaustion at 40, respond as giants to the promise of action. Crews of indestructible veterans and 13-year-old mini-heroes. Above all, the wooden ships in their final magnificence having to blindly shape the future. Storms of hardly believable magnitude tearing them apart. Hideous injuries, horrible disease. Lemons and onions.
A culmination of stupendous triumph and tragedy beyond the daring of fiction.