Book Review – Nelson’s Mediterranean Command

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The author has covered the most dramatic period of British naval history. It was a period of enormous risk and one that represented one of the most dangerous eras of British history. Britain had been ill-prepared for the French Revolution and its implications for British security. The Royal Navy had established supremacy during the Seven Years War when it gained the initiative over the French at sea. However, the RN and its ships had been neglected in the intervening years, requiring old ships to be brought into service, or uprated, and led to the Press Gang becoming the scourge of civilians, as the Navy increased its manpower. In 1798, Napoleon had risen to power in France and become the major force in Europe. The author has captured the period well and provided a gripping account of the political processes in London as senior military figures manoevered for the prime commands. In this environment, the elevation of Nelson to command in the critical Mediterranean theatre seemed an unlikely choice and certainly a controversial decision that led to a challenge to duel, the King’s intervention, and, eventually, to Nelson’s outstanding victories. A book well worth reading by those interested in any or all of: Nelson; Napoleonic Wars; politics; British history; war at sea; wooden warships; naval tactics; Royal Navy, and; the basis for Empire.

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