Book Review: Nelson's Battles: The Triumph of British Sea Power


by Nicholas Tracy

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008. Pp. 288. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN:0670034487

While the career of Lord Nelson necessarily takes up much of Nelson's Battles, they real value of this book is that it is primarily about "The triumph of British sea power."
One might say that the book, originally published in 1996 and now reissued in a revised edition, is a primer on the history and character of sea power in the great age of fighting sail.  Prof. Tracy, who has a long list of works on maritime history to his credit, gives the reader a look at the origins of the ship-of-the-line, the differing political and economic forces that helped mold the naval policies of the principal European powers, most notably Britain , France , and Spain , and their effect on the development of the respective naval forces. 
Along the way we get some lessons in the technology of war at sea, from ship design to gunnery, the evolution of strategy, arguments over tactics, and, of course, a look at a lot of battles.  
An excellent introduction to the age of fighting sail that is also likely to be of considerable value to readers already familiar with the period.
Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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