The Sword of Albion
By John Sugden
Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9780805078077, 925pp.
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
The most authoritative and intimate portrait written of Horatio Nelson
In this epic biography of British history's most celebrated naval commander, acclaimed historian John Sugden separates fact from myth to offer a powerful portrait of the military hero of Trafalgar.
As was true of the Sugden's riveting account of Horatio Nelson's early years ("Nelson: A Dream of Glory," 2005), this comprehensive life of Lord Nelson is built from largely overlooked primary documents, letters, and diaries that reach across two centuries to invite us to share Nelson's multifaceted life in the Napoleonic Wars.
"The Sword of Albion" offers the sweep and intimacy of first-rate historical fiction revealing the interior lives, for example, of Lord Nelson's wife, Fanny and family and the caring and more passionate Emma, Lady Hamilton, who nursed the war-weary hero back to health in Naples and London after his brilliant victory over the Spanish fleet at Cape St. Vincent in 1797 and the stunning defeat at Tenerife that cost Nelson his right arm.
Today's reader comes to understand that every obstacle in Nelson's path was attacked head-on with an Achilles-like ferocity and resolve. Yet his life was no steady upward trajectory; it was instead plagued by injuries and debt for the commoner admiral in a royal navy and English society dominated by lineage and property. As Sugden points out, "His life was a mission with the essence of a tour de force, hurrying toward a bloody climax that would change the fate of empires.
"Perhaps the best biography of Nelson to emerge in the past two centuries…superbly researched and very well-written."—The Daily Beast
"This superb warts-and-all biography details the awe-inspiring ups and downs of the final eight years of British Admiral Horatio Nelson’s life. Sugden’s meticulously researched, highly readable work will no doubt be the definitive portrait of a brilliant, fearless, inspiring warrior beset by flaws and vulnerabilities."—PW, "Best New Book of the Week"
"This is an ambitious and largely successful conclusion to a biography of a historical icon that has appeal for both scholars and general readers interested in British history."—Booklist
"Superb…In addition to expertly depicting the intricacies of maritime warfare, Sugden’s meticulously researched, highly readable work will no doubt be the definitive portrait of a brilliant, fearless, inspiring warrior beset by flaws and vulnerabilities."—PW (Starred Review)
"It’s clear that Sugden has spent an enormous amount of time on his research into primary sources, many of them newly accessed, and [he] presents a masterly portrait of the hero as a man…This is biography as it is meant to be."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"History repeats itself and it’s worth as visit."—Examiner.com"
A scholar’s dream…tremendously engaging."—Kirkus
"A rich and many-sitting read."—Library Journal