When Napoleon eventually died in exile, the Lords of the Admiralty
ordered that the original dispatches from seven major fleet battles
The Glorious First of June (1794), St Vincent (1797), Camperdown
(1797), The Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Trafalgar (1805), and
San Domingo (1806) should be gathered together and presented to the
nation. These letters, written by Britain s admirals, captains,
surgeons, and boatswains and sent back home in the midst of
conflict, were bound in an immense volume, to be admired as a jewel
of British history.
Sam Willis, one of Britain's finest naval historians, stumbled
on this collection by chance in the British Library in 2010 and
soon found that only a handful of people knew of its existence.
Willis here shapes that material into wonderful character portraits
of the commanders on both sides, assessing their strengths and
weaknesses. He also provides concise and illuminating explanations
of the convoluted political circumstances surrounding each battle
as he expertly reinterprets these key engagements in extraordinary
and revelatory detail.
A beautifully illustrated dramatic narrative, In the Hour of
Victory tells the story of these naval triumphs as never before and
allows us to hear once more the officer s voices as they describe
the battles that made Britain great."
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