• Seize the Fire

  • Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar
  • By: Adam Nicolson
  • Narrated by: Adam Nicolson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (117 ratings)

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Seize the Fire  By  cover art

Seize the Fire

By: Adam Nicolson
Narrated by: Adam Nicolson
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Publisher's Summary

"Strikingly original.... Mr. Nicolson brings to life superbly the horror, devastation, and gore of Trafalgar." (The Economist)

Adam Nicolson takes the great naval battle of Trafalgar, fought between the British and Franco-Spanish fleets in October 1805, and uses it to examine our idea of heroism and the heroic. A story rich with modern resonance, Seize the Fire reveals the economic impact of the battle as a victorious Great Britain emerged as a global commercial empire.

Nicolson not only vividly describes the brutal realities of battle but enters the hearts and minds of the men who were there. His masterful history is a portrait of a moment, a close and passionately engaged depiction of a frame of mind at a turning point in world history.

©2005 Adam Nicolson (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"So ripping I faced the classic ocean-voyage quandary. Halfway through, my supply of pages dwindling, I started to ration." (The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Seize the Fire

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great narration

great narration by the author, would recommend over reading. can feel the emotion in picture painted.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating but overly academic

I enjoyed this book and learned an enormous amount. It is not so much a blow by blow account of the battle as much as a "meta-history" of the sociological forces at play in 1805. There are long discussions of what "honor" and "duty" meant in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. There's a comparison of Wordsworth and Nelson. So in this sense it is a very academic study and sometimes falls prey to the excesses that pass for scholarly learning in some quarters-- e.g. the interpretation of King Henry's speech at Agincourt in terms of Freudian sexuality. Or the personification of Violence which runs throughout the book and leads to statements like :Paradoxically the violence of battle was a release, a calm in the midst of the storm... etc.
If your interest is in military history, this work will disappoint. If you want to learn a lot about the period from the extremely well-read author, then this work might be of interest.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bellicose but great

Given the Nelson bicentennial, I had been yearning for a book about Trafalgar. This book did not disappoint. This is a book about the values that gave rise to the roles played by officers, and to some minor extent men, in the Royal Navy. As such, it is a fabulous work and a must read for all fans of Patrick O'Brian's books. This is the Book that O'Brian fans need in order to fill in that author’s sociological gaps. There is a considerable amount of chest thumping in the book but that is to be expected from something that is part propaganda part history.

1 person found this helpful

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Literature, not History

If you're seeking a detailed account of the Battle of Trafalgar look elsewhere. I appreciate the author's purpose in writing this book, but his emphasis made the book pedantic, vague, and repetitive. It may have been better to read than listen to. The best part of the book was the chapter on Nelson's death.

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good book

good book, top best book for to read about sailing ships and fighting like ufc

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Superb British prose, captivating audio rendition

Americans might overlook this seemingly stuffy British recount of Nelson's life and death surrounding Trafalgar, and you almost certainly be in the mood to listen at times, but you'll be rewarded with a terrific telling. Stay for the end, the author's read of the actual battle and Nelson's death is captivating.

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Terrifying yet terrific Trafalgar

Nicolson is a compelling writer; this paean to Lord Nelson at his moment of triumph and at his death is superbly crafted and conveyed. Highly recommend