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Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain's Greatest Frigate Captain (Paperback)
"Nobody describes a naval battle better than Taylor…a flawless demonstration of the biographer’s craft." —Jan Morris, The Guardian
Edward Pellew, captain of the legendary Indefatigable, was quite simply the greatest British frigate captain in the age of sail. Left fatherless at age eight, with a penniless mother and five siblings, Pellew fought his way from the very bottom of the navy to fleet command. Victories and eye-catching feats won him a public following. Yet he had a gift for antagonizing his better-born peers, and he made powerful enemies. Redemption came with his last command, when he set off to do battle with the Barbary States and free thousands of European slaves. Opinion held this to be an impossible mission, and Pellew himself, leading from the front in the style of his contemporary Nelson, did not expect to survive.
Pellew’s humanity, fondness for subordinates, and blind love for his family, and the warmth and intimacy of his letters, make him a hugely engaging figure. Stephen Taylor gives him at last the biography he deserves.
About the Author
Stephen Taylor, a former journalist working at The Times in London, is the author of Storm and Conquest and Commander. He lives in Windsor, England.
If Pellew’s life, fired in the kiln of O’Brian’s genius, gave us Jack Aubrey, both our interest and gratitude ought to be ongoing and deep.
— Charles Finch
Taylor is clarity itself…he has also contributed handily to our appreciation of the workings and vagaries of the Royal Navy.
— Katherine A. Powers
An entertaining, swashbuckling adventure, filled to the brim with derring-do.
[Pellew] is skilfully conjured up in Stephen Taylor’s commendable biography. Fans of Forester and O’Brian will enjoy this tale of Pellew’s meteoric rise.
Meticulous archival research vividly presents a real-life hero whose deeds provided material for C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey.
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