Nelson, Alexander the Great, Georgi Zhukov
first great popular hero of Britain was Admiral Horatio Nelson -
a small, one-eyed, one-armed fighting sailor who captured the imagination
of a nation with his bravery and inspired deeds.
its examination of Nelson, the television series The Great Commanders
follows his extraordinary career from his early years at sea,
the meteoric rise to captain - by the unheard of age of 20 - and
his date with destiny at Trafalgar.
with some terrific images of naval warfare in the times of fighting
sail and Nelson at varying ages, The Great Commanders paints
the picture of a flawed man who was an absolute genius at naval
are details of his battles in the Mediterranean, at the Nile, Copenhagen
and his leadership of the Channel Fleet at a time when the British
public's fears of a French invasion were quietened by his protecting
pulls no punches about his uncaring treatment of his wife Fanny,
or his very public affair with the love of his life Lady Emma Hamilton,
or the fact he was vain, or even that he did make some big mistakes
- such as a failed commando raid on Boulogne.
it does so with a huge respect and only to counter the Victorian
image of Nelson as a perfect hero. He was great, the experts say,
not perfect. Those experts include the doyen of Napoleonic studies
David Chandler, Tom Pocock, Brian Lavery, Colin White and General
all agree he ranks highly among the list of great military commanders
because of his mixture of physical and moral courage, ability to
plan operations down to the finest detail and inspire his men to
Great Commanders then looks at Nelson's bold and brilliant use
of his outnumbered and outgunned fleet at Trafalgar when he took
on and destroyed a combined force of French and Spanish ships.
superiority of the Royal Navy's gunnery and battle tactics - firing
at the hull of enemy ships rather than the sails - is gone into
and how the harbour-bound French and Spanish were no match for the
sea-hardened British crews.
shows how the battle fleets came together - with Nelson using the
revolutionary tactic of splitting the enemy line of battle - with
excellent 3D graphics. These computer-generated images make the
confusion of a naval battle far easier to understand.
are also quotes from journals of survivors of the battle that also
add colour and atmosphere to the episode.
was mortally wounded during the battle, but died knowing his side
had won the contest that established Britain as the world's leading
sea power for more than a century.
of the astounding facts to come out of this fantastic and informative
programme is that some 450 British sailors died along with Nelson,
compared with 4500 French and Spanish, who also suffered more than
20,000 men captured.
episode of a terrific series, which is now out on DVD and video,
is a must for those interested in how Britain stopped the threat
of Napoleon Bonaparte invading Britain - and how Trafalgar landlocked
the French empire.
the Great and Issus
as the world's leading military commander, Alexander the Great was
a complex personality who took a small Macedonian army and carved
out a huge empire.
only 32 when he died, Alexander had conquered a massive portion
of the known world against huge numbers of opponents.
battle focussed upon by The Great Commanders is his victory at Issus,
when he led an audacious charge across a river and destroyed a host
of Persian soldiers.
Zhukov and Berlin
with a seemingly invincible enemy in the form of the German army
of World War II, Josef Stalin appointed the tough commander Georgi
Zhukov to lead the Soviet Union's armies.
and ruthless, Zhukov even ran his men through minefields because
he figured the casualties would be the same as trying to clear them
Zhukov's handling of large forces and success in capturing Berlin
have him rated as being the leading soldier of last century.