Seize the Fire
Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of TrafalgarBook - 2005
A retelling of the Battle of Trafalgar profiles Horatio Nelson as a leader with a fierce sense of honor and duty, in an account that examines the ambitions, fears, and principles that contributed to the British Mediterranean fleet's victory.
In Seize the Fire, Adam Nicolson, author of the widely acclaimed God's Secretaries, takes the great naval battle of Trafalgar, fought between the British and Franco-Spanish fleets in October 1805, and uses it to examine our idea of heroism and the heroic. Is violence a necessary aspect of the hero? And daring? Why did the cult of the hero flower in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in a way it hadn't for two hundred years? Was the figure of Nelson—intemperate, charming, theatrical, anxious, impetuous, considerate, indifferent to death and danger, inspirational to those around him, and, above all, fixed on attack and victory—an aberration in Enlightenment England? Or was the greatest of all English military heroes simply the product of his time, "the conjurer of violence" that England, at some level, deeply needed?
It is a story rich with modern resonance. This was a battle fought for the control of a global commercial empire. It was won by the emerging British world power, which was widely condemned on the continent of Europe as "the arrogant usurper of the freedom of the seas." Seize the Fire not only vividly describes the brutal realities of battle but enters the hearts and minds of the men who were there; it is a portrait of a moment, a close and passionately engaged depiction of a frame of mind at a turning point in world history.
Independent scholar Nicolson presents an accessible account of the British victory over the Franco-Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805. He also places these events within the larger context of commonly held ideas in Enlightenment England about violence and heroism. A section of color plates illustrates the volume. Nicolson is the author of the bestselling God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A two hundredth anniversary retelling of the Trafalgar battle profiles Horatio Nelson as a leader with a fierce sense of honor and duty who embodied a particular skill for inspiring love in others, in an account that draws on a range of sources to examine the ambitions, fears, and principles that contributed to the British Mediterranean fleet's victory. By the author of Seamanship. 75,000 first printing.