Nelson's victory at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805 was a pivotal event in European history. But Trafalgar was not simply an isolated battle fought and won in an afternoon - the naval campaign had in fact begun more than four years before.
This extraordinary period, following Napoleon's threat to invade England in 1801, came to be known as The Great Terror, and Britain was on the alert. As the Grande Armee faced a Dad's army of English volunteers across the Channel, a secret war of espionage and subversion was fought in the shadows. New weapons - rockets, submarines and torpedoes - were developed.
Drawing on diaries, letters and newspapers, Tom Pocock paints a vivid picture of the years from 1801 to 1805, and of people caught up in these events: Nelson himself as he blockaded the French at sea for two unbroken years, his love Emma Hamilton waiting at home, Jane Austen and her naval brothers, the diarist Fanny Burney, the admirals, generals and politicians, as well as the lesser-known men such as Fulton, Congreve, Moreau and Pichegru who waged the secret war on either side of the Channel.
Tom Pocock is the author of 18 books (and editor of two more), mostly biographies but including two about his experiences as a newspaper war correspondent.Born in London in 1925 - the son of the novelist and educationist Guy Pocock - he was educated at Westminster School and Cheltenham College, joining the Royal Navy in 1943. He was at sea during the invasion of Normandy and, having suffered from ill-health, returned to civilian life and in 1945 became a war correspondent at the age of 19,the youngest of the Second World War.After four years wth the Hulton Press current affairs magazine gro...
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