am 24. Juli 1999
This single volume combines the story of Nelson's hamstringing of Bonaparte's Egyptian and Middle Eastern ambitions with a lively overview of the mechanics and organisation of naval power at the apogee of the age of sail. The narrative shifts rapidly between the French and British viewpoints and the technical, sociological and organisational interpolations never interrupt the flow. The tension builds up rapidly as the ramshackle French task-force heads south and east, occupying Malta on the way, and as Nelson's squadron gropes to find it, encountering near disaster off Sardinia. Correctly guessing Egypt as the French destination Nelson then heads east - but chance and mischance ensure that Bonaparte will have landed his forces and conquered Egypt before the French fleet is trapped by Nelson at its Aboukir anchorage. The description of the battle is both exciting and terrifying, and the close insights that Lavery has previously given into the characters of the individual captains as well as admirals make the reader identify closely with those involved. The idealogical differences between the protagonists run as an important, but never explicit, subtext and the contrast between French improvisation and the ruthless professionalism of the British add an extra dimension. This is history in the grand narrative tradition and it reads as easily, and as enjoyably, as the naval novels of Forrester, kent and O'Brien. A splendid read - highly recommended.
am 4. Juni 2014
I don't think there is a more exquisitely researched and opulently detailed book on the subject available. All those facts may prove a bit tiring for the reader seeking a thrilling, quickly told tale. If you are seriously interested in the subject the book is top. I have the Kindle version which contains no illustrations at all. Perhaps the print version is different. Should that be the case, I would definitely advise the print version. Maps would be very helpful indeed.