Barry Unsworth's Losing Nelson is a novel of obsession, the story of a man unable to see himself separately from the hero he mistakenly idolizes Admiral Lord Nelson. Charles Cleasby is, in fact, a Nelson biographer run amok. He is convinced that Nelson--Britain's greatest admiral, who finally defeated Napoleon, and lost his own life, in the Battle of Trafalgar--is the perfect hero, but in his research he has come upon an incident of horrifying brutality in Nelson's military career that simply stumps all attempts at glorification.
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January 10, 2012
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