This is a biography of Lord Charles Beresford who served in the Royal Navy from the 1860’s through to just before the start of the First World War. As such it is not only an interesting insight into the man himself but includes a wealth of information on the Navy and its administration in a period that gets little attention, sandwiched as it is between the triumphs of the Age of Sail in Nelson’s time and the global conflicts of the World Wars.
I have spent some time thinking about this review as Freeman’s work establishes Beresford as a very complex individual and I am still undecided as whether I like him. During his career the Navy saw drastic (and expensive) changes as the relatively new innovation of steam driven ships saw constant updates to design and size culminating in the giant ‘Dreadnought’ battleships. It must have been a difficult time to serve, in the shadow of the great Nelson and with tactics constantly changing to take account of new weaponry.