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The Enemy at Trafalgar: Eyewitness Narratives, Dispatches and Letters from the French and Spanish Fleets

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Enemy at Trafalgar: Eyewitness Narratives, Dispatches and Letters from the French and Spanish Fleets.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Edward Fraser(Author)

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Dramatic first-hand accounts of sea life and battleThe only available English-language versions of most French and Spanish reportsWell edited to make a readable continuous narrativeIn the century since this book was first published much has been written about the greatest sea battle of the age of sail, but very little of it in English is from the perspective of the defeated. This gives the work an enduring value to all but those with access to French and Spanish naval archives. Edward Fraser, an experienced writer on naval subjects, compiled and translated a collection of official dispatches and personal accounts by the participants, weaving his first-hand material into a vivid and eminently readable continuous narrative. This takes the story from Napoleon's strategic intentions for the Combined Fleets, through the events while it was blockaded at Cadiz, to the details of the battle itself, the storm which followed, and the terrible aftermath for victors and vanquished alike.Largely drawn from French and Spanish sources, the unusual illustrations range from contemporary portraits and seascapes to detailed maps of the action, as seen from the Franco-Spanish side. Originally published to celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, this book is now fittingly reissued on the approach of the bicentenary.Edward Fraser specialised in popular naval topics with stirring titles like Champions of the Fleet, but he also wrote a major history of the Royal Marine Artillery.
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Book details

  • PDF | 464 pages
  • Edward Fraser(Author)
  • Chatham Publishing; 1st Edition edition (15 April 2004)
  • English
  • 9
  • History

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Review Text

  • By L. A. Camy on 11 September 2009

    This book was written in 1905 to commerate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar. It is as far as I know rare if not unique in English in viewing the battle primarily from the Franco-Spanish perspective. Giving it its importance even though the auyhor is apologetic about using these sources as if it is a slur on the courage and ability of the British!!!. The books rarity is itself an indictment of subsequent generations of historians.Whilst the narrative is contiuous there are four main sources. Attibuted statements from Franco-Spanish officers, attributed statements from British officers mainly to keep continuity in the storyline, unattrbuted comments from both sides and the comments and narrative by the author.Before I go any further I must say that this is a most valuable book that should be in the collection of anyone interested in Trafalgar in particular and the naval war of 1793-1815 in general. However it has its limitations as can be judged by the fact the author felt the need to apologise for having written it. There are two major frustrations that led me to put the book aside for days on end. The first is the unattributed comments which are frequently on significant events and without knowing whether it was the admiral or a midshipman or anyone in between who made them their worth is at best suspectand what weight if any should be put to them. The other and far more important is the author's narrative. He has irritated, frustrated and infuriated me. He makes many redundant comments but where the information presented is crying out for a comment there is none. An example is the only manoeuvre conducted by the combined fleet was to turn from a southerly course to a northerly one. Admiral Villeneuve says he ordered the fleet to wear (highly likely he had always done so previously and it also took the fleet away from the British). Lucas of the Redoutable on the other hand says that the fleet tacked. This is a major discrepancy and casts doubt on the whole of Lucas's evidence if he could not get this important fact right what else can we trust in his account and yet the author makes no comment. While he continuously adds flowery descriptions that add nothing such as the gallant Euryalus bravung the guns of the combined fleet when she was just doing her job sailing outside the maximum range of the combined fleets cannon.Or that because Villeneuve had ancestors who died at Roncevalles and in the crusades this made him fit to command the combined fleet.This book undoubtly shows a point of view that has dated for example the adulation of Nelson would be considerd extreme a hundred years later by the general reader, even taking into account that the sun still rises and sets on Nelson and no other admiral or captain existed in the war of 1793-1815. But there is a more serious thought for the modern reader (and by that I would include anyone post 1916) just how much the opinions expressed by the author on naval tactics are only his own and how much they reflect the general public and more importantly naval opinion. If they were the same then the losses of the battlecruisers and the deaths of thousands of men at Jutland can be seen to have resulted from a total miss-understanding of reasons for Nelson's tactics at Trafalgar.


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