Synopses & Reviews
Enhanced by illustrations, maps, and letters, this book provides a museum-quality experience detailing the thrilling accomplishments of Lafayette and his legendary warship, the Hermione, in support of the colonists’ cause during the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette, on a secret mission from King Louis XVI, was to inform George Washington and the Congress that France would support the American colonies in their conflict with Great Britain. Once on American soil, Lafayette shed his diplomatic role for an important military assignment, helping to mastermind the decisive Virginia campaign that brought hostilities to an end. While Lafayette excelled on the battlefield, his ship, the Hermione, was burnishing its own legend as part of the crucial maneuvers that led to the defeat of the much larger British navy—and ensured the American victory. The descriptions offer fascinating insights into the building of the arsenal in Rochefort under Louis XIV and Colbert, the development of the French navy, 18th-century naval strategy, and shipbuilding techniques. Also profiled is the ambitious undertaking of the nearly two decades-long project to meticulously recreate the Hermione and prepare it for a new transatlantic voyage, again on a mission of friendship and goodwill.
"Authoritative and insightful." Publishers Weekly
"Willis skillfully weaves the newly discovered material along with his own insightful commentary... [he] takes chances with an unorthodox approach to a series of crucial naval battles of geostrategic importance, and his approach works." Joseph Callo, US Naval Institute
The greatest victories from the British Navy's golden age, told through never-before-seen letters from the officers themselves.
When Napoleon eventually died in exile, the Lords of the Admiralty ordered that the original dispatches from seven major fleet battles--The Glorious First of June (1794), St Vincent (1797), Camperdown (1797), The Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801), Trafalgar (1805), and San Domingo (1806)--should be gathered together and presented to the nation. These letters, written by Britain's admirals, captains, surgeons, and boatswains and sent back home in the midst of conflict, were bound in an immense volume, to be admired as a jewel of British history.
In the Hour of Victory
presents a British national treasure that acclaimed Royal Navy historian Sam Willis personally unearthed through archival research: immaculately preserved, rarely seen in our time, dispatches from Britain’s most thrilling naval victories. The letters, as urgent and riveting as ever, include admirals’ narratives describing their victories to the king, accounts from captains analyzing their conduct in battle, notes from boatswains assessing the damage to their ships, and reports from surgeons enumerating injuries to their men.
The rediscovery of these firsthand reports and the vivid commentary they provide enable Willis to reassess key engagements in extraordinary and revelatory detail and to offer fresh insights into Britain’s revered naval heroes. In a dramatic and immersive narrative—richly illustrated with artifacts, maps, battle plans, and the letters themselves—In the Hour of Victory takes us to the heart of the battles that made Britain great.
About the Author
Emmanuel de Fontainieu is the director of the Centre International de la Mer in Rochefort and a member of the Steering Committee of the Hermione-Lafayette Association. He lives in France. Dr. Henry Kissinger is a world-renowned writer, political scientist, and diplomat. He served as the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State and won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. He lives in New York City. Ségolène Royal is a prominent member of the French Socialist Party, the president of the Poitou-Charentes Regional Council, and the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy. She lives in France.