Horatio Nelson was a paramount naval genius and a natural born predator, and those who look to find a saint besides will miss the man. In private life as in war he was ruthless. A fanatic for duty, at times beyond all sense, he was also a royalist so infatuated with the divine right of kings that he began to see himself as an instrument of God. No one expects so great a marshal as Napoleon to be a saint as well, but Nelson has been encumbered with his own romantic legend, which he helped to create. The real Nelson was a man whose mind was, in his own words, fixed as fate, whose instinct was not just to defeat the enemy but annihilate him. At the height of his fame he was half unhinged, a generous man who wanted his wife dead, besotted with Emma Hamilton but jealously unsure of her, at odds with his honourable father whose funeral he did not attend, at law with his old mentor Earl St Vincent over prize money, and damning the Lords of the Admiralty as a set of beasts. Written with access to almost entirely original letters and documents and with full apparatus, Terry Coleman has given us a penetrating and original picture of an unfamiliar Nelson.