Commander – The Life and Exploits of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain

CommanderPerhaps not a surprise after all the other naval biographies that it is finally turn of Edward Pellew. I have been recommended Commander by Stephen Taylor (ISBN# N/A) for good account of his career. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Edward Pellew did actually rise to prominence from the rank and file of Royal Navy due to extremely rare occurrence of personal merit. His compatriots normally advanced due to influential connections in the establishment and seniority once vital first steps were taken and rank of Post Captain was reached.

Probably because of his own troublesome start, success of Pellew perhaps persuaded himself to advance his own protégées in the very same way that he never had for himself. An act that caused more than once harm to his own career, and nearly caused his own downfall. At the end his keenness of promote protégées that were not up to the tasks perhaps even placed him in the shadow of other great men such as St. Vincent and Nelson.

Edward Pellew spent most of his career at sea, and during his own time, he was regarded very fine captain, and his command of 44 gun Indefatigable brought forth admiration and awe – as recorded by Moore in Frigate Commander when he received command of the very same ship. Pellew did eventually reach rank of an admiral, but now by his own preference. His fleet command was somewhat short lived and troubled, first in the politically divided command of the East Indian station and then Mediterranean where, in the battle of Algiers which stands as testimony to his ability to command fleet as well as a Frigate.

Book itself is a fluent and good read for Napoleonic naval history for those who are interested in the topic and would like to learn a bit more about the intrigues and realities that the officers of Royal Navy were involved in. However, I have to admit that Cochrane was perhaps more entertaining and his deeds were told more vividly. It may, of course have something to do with the number of naval biographies that I have recently gone through.

In any case, if you are interested in naval history, Commander is yet another book you probably do not wish to leave on the bookshelf.

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