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Love and Fame

Edgar Vincent

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Legendary for exploits in war and love, the perennially fascinating Horatio Nelson comes into clear view in this captivating new biography

Nelson’s naval glory, public fame, charismatic leadership, scandalous romance, and untimely death as he led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar have ensured his enduring position as England’s favorite hero. This engaging, full-length biography of Nelson (1758–1805) presents a gripping account of his career and climb to fame interwoven with the fascinating details of his personal and emotional life.

A man of contradictions, Nelson emerges in this biography as a ruthless and aggressive leader; an ambitious attention-seeker capable of childish behavior; but a figure admired for his courage, kindness, and leadership skills. Edgar Vincent offers a number of new interpretations of aspects of Nelson’s life, illuminates the motives and attitudes of key figures who surrounded him, and provides an account of his early infatuations, his courtship of his wife Fanny, and his passion for his celebrated mistress Lady Hamilton. Captured on these pages in all his vigor and complexity, Nelson is as charismatic a figure today as he was two hundred years ago.

Since his retirement as a senior manager from ICI, Edgar Vincent has been researching and writing about Horatio Nelson. He first became interested in Nelson during his own service in the British Royal Navy four decades ago.

An alternate selection of the History Book Club and the Military Book Club

Nelson: Love and Fame has the potential to prove a great success, to be very popular indeed, and to establish itself as the fullest and best life of Nelson for a generation.”—Rory Muir, author of Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon

"Vincent’s luminescent biography gives us a man of the sea who was never entirely comfortable with the ways of the land. His Nelson is often ridiculous, sometimes sublimely brilliant, touched with the tragedy of life and bathed in the glories of war, a man of contradictions which seem never to have been resolved. The biography is a brilliant read, capturing what feels like a definitive portrait of Nelson."—Antiquarian Book Review

"Vincent’s extraordinary work does justice to this extraordinary man. . . . The author’s sharp, skeptical intelligence sets this book apart. . . . Vincent writes with fluency and deploys his evidence with keen analytical ability and storytelling skill. He has written a great biography and a poignant love story."—Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly

“Vincent’s book is a labour of love . . . highly readable.”—Hugh Costello, BBC History Magazine

“The book comes complete with comprehensive illustrations and diagrams of the battles and should be a must-read for either those with a casual interest in history or for the serious student of naval life in the 18th and 19th centuries.”—Andrew Martin, Birmingham Post

"This definitive chronicle is underscored by Vincent’s astute analysis of Nelson’s intimate persona as well as his celebrity status."—Booklist

“[Nelson] is likely to remain a classic for many years.”—Books-On-Line

“As enjoyable a biography as I have read this year. Nelson has always fascinated me. . . . The wonderfully detailed accounts of naval life are as strong a reason for reading it.”—Doris Lessing, Daily Telegraph (Recommended as a ‘book of the year’ by Doris Lessing in the Daily Telegraph)

“Edgar Vincent’s riveting, revisionist Nelson: Love and Fame is one of the best biographies I have read in point of clarity, breadth and penetration. Vincent . . . makes Nelson’s career . . . unfold in reality with a narrative power and logical cohesion unheard-of in romantic fiction.”—Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph (Recommended as a ‘book of the year’ by Hilary Spurling in the Daily Telegraph)

"This is a wonderful book, the best modern biography of Britain’s greatest admiral. . . . [Nelson] deserves his place on the highest public monument in Britain. Edgar Vincent explains why."—John Keegan, Daily Telegraph

"Vincent has written a memorable account of an unforgettable man."—Bob Trimble, Dallas Morning News

"[A] passionate . . . celebration of Nelson’s life and career."—Economist

“Edgar Vincent has written a robust, level-headed account of Nelson’s life, particularly strong in its analysis of Nelson’s battles.”—Adam Preston, Financial Times

“This comprehensive narrative would not disappoint the admiral.”—Ian Pindar, Guardian

"A new biography of the naval hero, looking at his emotional life but also considering his professional life, and arguing that he was ahead of his time in terms of method of mission command and leadership skills."—History Today

“For the reader who only has time for one volume, it has to be Edgar Vincent’s excellent Nelson.”—Roy Adkins, Independent on Sunday

"A formidable addition to the already crowded Nelson canon. . . . Vincent’s publishers have done him proud. There are excellent maps and battle diagrams; the illustrations are copious, and many have rarely been seen before."—Paul Johnson, Literary Review

"[Vincent’s] biography of . . . [England’s] most famous maritime leader is superbly written and gives a real insight into what made Nelson tick."—Living History

"The best modern book on the admiral and one of the best biographies of its kind. . . . Edgar Vincent has served immortal Nelson well. He has given just enough of tactics while serving the man up whole for those who favor biography over tactical study. I can imagine no better life of one of history’s greatest captains."—Robert Messenger, New Criterion

“Thoughtful, comprehensive. . . . A very useful addition to the literature on Nelson.”—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review

“Mr. Vincent is a wonderful writer. . . . This is biography that finds a language to knit together the actions and character of its subject."—Carl Rollyson, New York Sun

"Edgar Vincent’s Nelson . . . takes apart the operational machinery that powered his subject’s upward thrust, laying out and reassembling the nuts and bolts with methodical and enthralling precision. . . . This is a remarkable book on all fronts, technical, historical and psychological. . . . Nelson is a masterly biography, cool and sharp in long shots, intimately persuasive in close focus, at all times difficult to put down and as timely as it is suggestive in its implications."—Hilary Spurling, New York Times Book Review

"This deeply historical, psychological and technical examination of Britain’s seaborne superstar of the Napoleonic Wars amply shows how little prepared he was to meet Emma Hamilton, with a vulnerability on land as spectacular as his competence at sea."—New York Times Book Review ("And Bear In Mind")

"[A] comprehensive biography. Making extensive use of archival and published sources, Vincent provides a perceptive, empathetic analysis of a man who throughout his life focused talent and energy on the pursuit of ambition."—Publishers Weekly

"This full-blown biography offers a profusion of detail about Nelson’s health and finances, his way with the welfare and discipline of his men and how his battles were fought and usually won. . . . A true portrait of an extraordinary man."—Tom Pocock, Spectator

“This splendid book is as compelling when it has Nelson on shore as when he’s at sea. . . . Edgar Vincent has done him proud.”—Sunday Telegraph

"[A] stately . . . literary battleship, bristling with truly terrifying military and biographical detail."—Munro Price, Sunday Telegraph

"I would not have believed that there were many insights left for a new biographer to offer, but step forward, Edgar Vincent, the author of this intriguing new study. . . . This book is a fast-paced companion to those last years of the American wars of independence and those first years of the Napoleonic wars, when Nelson learnt the trade of hero."—Flora Fraser, Sunday Times

"Vincent has written a masterful biography of a military man that examines the nuts and bolts of leadership in an entertaining and compelling way. . . . If you only read one biography of Nelson among the hundreds available, it should be this one."—Paul Carbray, The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec)

"Vivid and absorbing."—David A. Wilson, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“The passion [Vincent] evidently feels for his subject, and the ardent simplicity of his style, make the story of Nelson’s death genuinely shocking.”—Andrew Motion, The Guardian

“Vincent has produced a lively modern life which is a worthwhile read. The book has been splendidly produced.”—Lawrie Phillips, The Naval Review

“Edgar Vincent has served immortal Nelson well. He has given just enough of tactics while serving the man up whole for those who favor biography over tactical study. I can imagine no better life of one of history’s greatest captains.”—Robert Messenger, The New Criterion

“By casting Nelson’s political masters or First Lords of the Admiralty in the role of modern chairmen of boards, . . . Vincent breathes new life into his hero’s crucial alliances, difficulties and quarrels’.”—Flora Fraser, The Sunday Times (London)

"This is a splendid biography, not only because it is well written and well researched, but also because it neither seeks to demean the hero nor excuse the man. Heroism becomes the more remarkable when it is shown by people who in other ways are very like ourselves."—L. G. Mitchell, Times Literary Supplement

"[Vincent] adds usefully to the generally very impressive selection of biographies that have been re-assessing Nelson over the last half century."—W.A.B. Douglas, Northern Mariner

"Vincent's biography of Nelson . . . makes for compelling reading. . . . Nelson as a hero becomes the more remarkable in Vincent's hands, for the human frailties of the subject are portrayed clearly."—Barry Gough, Journal of Military History

“Easily the best biography of Nelson I’ve ever read, a superb, fully rigged 74-gun ship of a book.”—Andrew Roberts

Selected by AAUP as "The Best of the Best from the University Presses: Books You Should Know About"

Named one of Atlantic Monthly’s Books of the Year

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Selected as an outstanding book by University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize
ISBN: 9780300102604
Publication Date: September 10, 2004
688 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
18 b/w + 58 color illus.