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Admiral Insubordinate: The Life and Times of Lord Charles Beresford [Kindle Edition]

Richard Freeman
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The British Navy never had any more wild wild, eccentric and outrageous Admiral than Lord Charles Beresford.

In this brilliant new biography, the best-selling naval historian Richard Freeman tells the story of Britain’s most insubordinate admiral, a man who mixed courage, audacity and pomposity with spite, venom and malevolence.

Three times commander-in-chief, a member of Parliament for twenty years, and a public speaker who filled halls throughout the land – Lord Charles Beresford was all of these. Yet he was also a naval captain who had so little sea experience that he scrambled to qualify for flag rank. He endured long periods of unemployment when in disgrace with the Admiralty, while his one foray into ministerial life ended in resignation. He was also the most reprimanded naval officer of his time – perhaps of all time.

Few men have enjoyed such fascinating and adventure-packed lives. The first ten years of Beresford’s naval career took him to every corner of the globe. He saw it all, from gold-mining to crucifixions, from the wild tribes of Terra del Fuego to the shadowy figure of the Emperor of Japan. When not recklessly throwing himself into perilous riding and wild hunting, he could be found risking his life to rescue fellow sailors.

Yet, after a shaky start, Beresford’s career changed when, at the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 his tiny HMS Condor took on the guns of one of the massive Egyptian forts. He was an overnight hero and remained so to his death. Three years later his even more spectacular adventures in the Sudan made him the hero of the failed campaign to rescue General Gordon from Khartoum.

But his official life was marred by his persistent hostility to the Admiralty and government. He achieved the dubious honour of one Prime Minister (Lord Salisbury) vowing never to employ him again in a political capacity, and one First Lord of the Admiralty (Reginald McKenna) vowing never to employ him again in the Navy. So antagonistic did he become that his naval career was ignominiously ended by the curtailing of his final command. At the age of 64 all public appointments were closed to him. Never again did the Admiralty or government call on him for any purpose. He still, though, made his mark and, as an MP and then as a peer, he remained centre stage, speaking in Parliament up to a few weeks before his death and still writing letters on the day he died.

Admiral Insubordinate is required reading for historians and military specialists.

Richard Freeman graduated in mathematics before following a career in distance education. He now writes on naval history. His other books include 'The Great Edwardian Naval Feud', 'Britain's Greatest Naval Battle', and 'A Close Run Thing: The Navy and The Falklands War'.

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

Product Details

  • File Size: 817 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Endeavour Press Ltd. (April 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007X507HQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,846 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Colourful Character May 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Admiral Insubordinate: The Life and Times of Lord Charles Beresford is an easy and interesting read on the life of Lord Beresford. Lord Beresford was both an MP and a naval officer and stood out in an age of other remarkable characters. He had a close relationship with the Prince of Wales which often worked in his favour and Beresford and his wife were hopeless at managing money. Beresford was always getting himself into some mischief and trouble, once attacking the government over the navy saying "if war was to be declared so many tasks would be thrown upon the Navy that it would be utterly impossible to perform those duties". Beresford was forever making enemies - and Richard Freeman has captured the drama, achievements and colour of his life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book August 28, 2012
By ilbob
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book. Not sure how I came upon it, but I got it for free a few months ago. Took me a while to get to it.

It has some minor editing and proofing issues, but they are few and far between, nothing that overwhelms the story itself.

As I was reading it, I had to wonder why the senior officers of the Royal Navy would have tolerated a mediocre officer like this who routinely lied to and misled them, and was insubordinate to boot. I guess the only real answer is that being a "nobleman" was all that really mattered at that time, and he was a master of self promotion and intrigue. On top of that he was independently wealthy and that may also have made a big difference at that time in history.

I was struck by his apparent genuine concern for the sailors and officers that served under him, and their families. Seems somewhat out of character for an individual who really seemed to care mostly about himself.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read June 2, 2012
By Jetpack
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As someone who had read Dreadnought, I jumped at the chance to pick up a book about the life of Lord Charles Beresford (free at the time). And Admiral Insubordinate doesn't fail to deliver. Beresford had a very interesting life, and the author does a great job of showing the details, the good and the bad. I had no idea that Beresford was such a progressive man, supporting the rights of women to vote and increased pensions for widows and orphans. I have to agree with Beresford, the widow of an engineer who dies when his boiler explodes should have gotten a pension, same as if the engineer had been in combat.

However, the tremendous hatred Beresford developed for his "enemies" overwhelms anything of good he did.

You really have to wonder how much Beresford could have accomplished if he had put his mind to it.

4,880 locations long. I easily recommend it, but there are a couple of problems. There is the occasional missed word or extra word, and one place where a paragraph is repeated. Still, very well done.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Interesting May 20, 2014
By Carol
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Reading this, I can understand why Admiral Beresford drove his superiors to distraction. In crises his responses were brilliant and effective, and he never let consideration for his own welfare get in the way of getting the job done. This made him a hero and overwhelmingly popular with the public.

He also sincerely cared about those serving under him and about the enlisted personnel in general, which was a rarity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In those days the aristocracy regarded ordinary people as only being as important as their effect of the comfort of their "betters" was concerned. If a poor woman couldn't afford to take her child to a doctor, what did it matter? There were plenty potential servants around. Beresford's work for the poor, especially for sailors and their widows was tireless.

At the same time, he was so often out of line in his behavior towards his superiors that the book's title Admiral Insubordinate is well chosen. When he wasn't actively serving (the RN had the odd habit of laying officers off on half-pay, sometimes for years, then calling them back to service for a few years, then laying them off again, etc) he filled in his time in Parliament. Of course, as an MP he could, and did, sound off loudly against those in power that he disliked. Unfortunately, his basis for dislike was apt to be petty personal differences or a failure to offer him the position/promotion he wanted.

During WW I, he worked extremely hard to raise money for the war effort and for relief funds. He was responsible for raising money that, in today's terms, would be over 30 million pounds! And always, he agitated for more help for injured seamen and the families of dead sailors.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and interesting. August 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. It was not well edited with several instances of incomplete sentences. But it was informative and interesting. I had always wondered about the life of Beresford with my interest in British naval history, and was very glad to read this.
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