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The Life and Letter of Emma Hamilton Hugh Tours Frontline Books 2020 Hardback: $30.95 £20.00 – 286 pages – Non-Fiction Order: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Life-and-Letters-of-Emma-Hamilton-Hardback/p/17132 and also various book sellers This is not a 'new' book but a reprint of a book first published in 1963. It is a useful republish though as copies of the original are rare and the scholarship is excellent. The author minimises interpretation and instead includes a wide range of the extant letters in their entirety as opposed to the (unfortunately common perhaps) alternative of selectively quoting - often in an attempt to demonise or glorify. Therefore you get a good sense of the woman her life and the people in her life. He often provides rolling conversations and many letters from other people who had encountered Emma this giving some interesting counterpoints to some of the more established narratives. Naturally Nelson features heavily near to the end more so because she did not destroy his letters whereas he assiduously did so to hers and he does not come across particularly well. Firstly the dalliance in Naples for less than decent military reasons then the 'I know you have unimpeachable honour' is opposed by the thought of Nelson having a child with the same woman whilst married to another and the fact he often rages at the thought of other men approaching Emma and her succumbing (whereas naturally if she had had that honour then there would have been nothing to worry about?). Different times now of course and people would not even blink at such an event but the reactions exposed give good insights into the state of mind and sometimes the lies we tell ourselves. The book provides a lot of information and gives a good example of who Emma was, how she (Eventually) excelled in the world, caught a succession of admirers before Nelson and then saw her life collapse into ruins after his death. For anyone interested in Nelson, Emma or general Georgian society it is recommended.
Catastrophe at Spithead Hilary L Rubinstein Seaforth Publishing, 2020 Hardback(£25, $37) 288 pages Order: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Catastrophe-at-Spithead-Hardback/p/17111 General Description This book is a very detailed investigation into the tragedy of the Royal George's sudden sinking on 29th August 1782. It broadly does this by using four primary sections. The first covers the personal history of some of the major players and primarily Rear Admiral Kempenfelt with Captain Waghorn. Secondly it runs through the events of the 29th August and surrounding days in some detail. Thirdly it moves to the resulting Court Martial before finishing with the efforts used to raise the ship and a brief 'what happened to them after'. I was quite impressed. The author has an excellent control of many varied resources and uses them efficiently and, as far as I can tell, in an unbiased fashion. She deftly avoids deciding on one interpretation of events and sometimes even cautions against the validity of evidence before she presents it (thus recognising that dead men gild no lilies and that peoples recollections can change quite drastically with hindsight especially when livelihood and reputation can be involved). In one impressive section she lists what one of the Seaman had reported to the Court Martial in some potentially damning testimony but also notes several other examples where other similar language had been used but had been laughed at by a ships occupants and as the ship in question had not sunk had proved true. This rather deftly avoids leading the reader down a potentially invalid path but at the same time provides useful information to help the reader make their own mind up. I enjoyed the entire book. The first section was good as it provided information that is not widely known - as an example most readers here will know Nelson's history prior to becoming a Captain but a minor Rear-Admiral and equally unknown Officers ?(excepting Phillip Durham). This helps broaden knowledge of the navy though I would have liked more time to be spent here. When she moves to the disaster itself the book picks up nicely and stays at a highly interesting pace for the remainder of the book. I would therefore highly recommend the book to anyone with an interest in the British Navy of around the Revolutionary wars. It will also interest those who want to know more about the day to day running of the navy (even to how they careened ships out of dock!) and the interrelations between ships officers/ warrant officers and crew. A quick purchasing note. The pen and sword link above currently has the book discounted at £20 though the RRP and UK amazon price is currently £25. Pen and Sword USA does not show the book yet but it can be purchased from U.S amazon at the price listed above (currently..). Finally if anyone wants a precis of what the reason for the disaster is then the book does not give a definitive answer. I have made my own assumptions (which may not match the authors) so am happy to discuss in this thread lower down so people who want to make their own mind up can avoid.