cover image The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo

The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo

Lesley Adkins, Roy Adkins, . . Viking, $27.95 (534pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03864-0

Husband and wife Roy Adkins (Nelson’s Trafalgar ) and Lesley Adkins (Empires of the Plain ) team up for this vivid account of the naval campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars (1798–1815). Contending that the wars were won at sea, the authors trace the nautical action from the Battle of the Nile (1798), where a British fleet “destroyed the French fleet” and stranded Napoleon’s army in Egypt, to the decisive Battle of Trafalgar (1805), where the British overwhelmed a combined French and Spanish fleet supporting an invasion of Britain. The narrative concludes with an account of the protracted “war of attrition” that followed Trafalgar and ended with Bonaparte’s final defeat at Waterloo in 1815. This low-grade conflict—coastal blockades and shipping raids—caught neutral nations like the United States “in the middle” and ultimately led the Americans to declare war on England in 1812—a conflict that was “never more than a sideshow” for the British. This rollicking saga ranges from the Mediterranean to the Indies, East and West, and ends with Britain in control of “the world’s sea lanes”—the foundation for her future empire. Meticulously researched—drawing on extensive and intimate eyewitness accounts from contemporary journals, letters and memoirs—this lively narrative will delight students and fans of nautical history. (Aug. 20)