The commander in question is the Cornishman Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, 1st
Viscount Exmouth, 1757-1833. A born seaman and a born fighter, he was written up by Edward Osler in 1835 and by C Northcote Parkinson in 1934. Taylor has had access to family corrections to Osler’s account, to Pellew’s son George’s unpublished notes (in a trunk in a Devon barn!) and has delved deep into primary sources to correct some glib assumptions by Parkinson, notably in connection with Pellew’s early career. Parkinson had credibility for he taught history at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth for many years and it was a bit naughty in him (and is in any historian) to paper over gaps in primary research with assumptions. That being said, records are much more accessible nowadays. Overall Taylor was absolutely correct to spot the need to revisit Pellew, who came to Taylor’s notice via his work on his previous book ‘Storm and Conquest
’, (ed Reviewed on Rum Ration
) and both research and narrative do him great credit; he is a natural storyteller.