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Nelson and his World

By Tom Pocock

More than 200 years after his death at the battle of Trafalgar, Nelson’s many-sided, contradictory nature still fascinates us.

Yet surprisingly little is known about the development of his personality. In particular, until now no biographer has attempted fully to explain the effect on Nelson of his childhood.

Nelson only became a national hero when he was a commodore, and most of the familiar events of his life – above all, his victories of the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar – occurred in his last seven years. But the professional activities of his early manhood were immensely varied, ranging from jungle fighting in the West Indies to exploration in the Arctic. The author describes how these experiences led up to the climax at Trafalgar, while always relating them to the intensely human qualities of the man who lived through them. Nelson had vivid powers of expression, and the author makes full use of the admiral’s own words in recounting the events of his life.

With Nelson and His World, Tom Pocock describes Nelson’s family and the social environment in which he grew up, offering fresh explanations for his independent outlook and occasional insubordination, his vanity and his infatuation (which endured until death) with Emma Hamilton.

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