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The Great GambleSimply the best account of the battle of Copenhagen, published to celebrate the bicentenary of one of Nelson's great victories. On 2nd April, 1801, the Royal Navy anchored a few hundred yards off the Copenhagen waterfront and engaged the Danes in a brief but bloody battle. Earlier, inspired by Paul I of Russia, the northern powers began to form an armed coalition which could become a serious threat to British interests, and the arrival of a British fleet in the Baltic was in answer to this perceived threat. To Nelson, the battle of Copenhagen was more than a great gamble: it was unnecessary.

He believed in a direct attack on the Russian fleet, but, failing that, he convinced Sir Hyde Parker, to whom he was second-in-command, that the best initial step would be an attack on the Danish fleet at Copenhagen. This he was allowed to lead. Dudley Pope looks at what miscalculations, what stupidities, what order of polities combined to put Nelson second-in-command to a man over sixty, a man with no real knowledge of naval warfare, a man who, at the height of battle, when England so obviously had the upper hand, hoisted the signal for Nelson to retreat. Nelson famously disregarded the order for, as he said, he had a right to be sometimes blind, being sightless in one eye. But The Great gamble is much more than a full-bodies account of a great sea battle. With hois scrupulous eye for detail and unlimited access to both British and Danish sources, Pope throws fascinating light on the background, the intrigues and the ramifications of the battle. But at the heart lies Nelson, triumphant after the Nile, once again delivering for his country a great victory at sea. Dudley Pope's telling of this story, first published in 1972, is brilliantly researched and utterly compelling and undoubtedly the best book with which to celebrate the bicentenary in April 2001.

Author: Dudley Pope

Title: The Great Gamble: Nelson at Copenhagen

Series: n/a

First Published by: Weidenfeld and Nicolson

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Format:

Date: 1972

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