A naval intelligence officer himself, author Steven Maffeo illustrates the role of this "dark craft" by concentrating on the experiences of Lord Nelson and his contemporaries. A profoundly complex figure, Nelson epitomized the active acquisition of intelligence and the bold execution of decisions based on an understanding of the material, and Maffeo offers fresh and illuminating information that supports the admiral's high regard for intelligence work.
Reading at times like a cloak-and-dagger mystery, the story is filled with examples of how Nelson and his associates dealt with intelligence obstacles and how the outcomes affected their own futures, and, in some cases, the history of the modern world. Maffeo's anecdotes give marvelous insight into the thoughts of the era's important figures, Bonaparte, Pitt, Spencer, and Cochrane--not to mention C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey and Maturin. The author's winning combination of vibrant narrative and zeal for accuracy assures this book a place in the libraries of military and intelligence professionals, historians, and Forester and O'Brian aficionados.