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In Nelson's Wake: The Navy and the Napoleonic Wars

by James Davey Yale University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 440 pages
AU$32.99 NZ$34.77
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Battles, blockades, convoys, raids: how the indefatigable British Royal Navy ensured Napoleon’s ultimate defeat


Horatio Nelson’s celebrated victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 presented Britain with an unprecedented command of the seas. Yet the Royal Navy’s role in the struggle against Napoleonic France was far from over. This groundbreaking book asserts that, contrary to the accepted notion that the Battle of Trafalgar essentially completed the Navy’s task, the war at sea actually intensified over the next decade, ceasing only with Napoleon’s final surrender.   


In this dramatic account of naval contributions between 1803 and 1815, James Davey offers original and exciting insights into the Napoleonic wars and Britain’s maritime history. Encompassing Trafalgar, the Peninsular War, the War of 1812, the final campaign against Napoleon, and many lesser known but likewise crucial moments, the book sheds light on the experiences of individuals high and low, from admiral and captain to sailor and cabin boy. The cast of characters also includes others from across Britain—dockyard workers, politicians, civilians—who made fundamental contributions to the war effort, and in so doing, both saved the nation and shaped Britain’s history.
“James Davey, a curator at the National Maritime Museum, leads us into the world of Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, and he is a conscientious guide with an eye for arcane details”—Lawrence James, The Times

“Students of maritime will surely profit from reading this impressive book. For those coming fresh to the period, a timeline summarizes important events… Davey’s deep knowledge of the secondary literature, and great familiarity with a wide range of primary sources, both printed and in manuscript, is put to good use. His arguments open up new perspectives on the navy and its role as an offensive force in a war fought mainly on land.“—Stephen Conway, International Journal of Military History

James Davey is curator of naval history at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. He lives in Greenwich, London.