But Cochrane's career was a checkered one, due mostly to his dislike of authority and tendency to nurse grudges. The man whose meticulous naval strategies were masterpieces of preparation was prone to ill-considered attacks on those in command, and his career as a British naval officer came to an effective end when he prosecuted a court martial against his commanding officer Lord Gambier after his near-disastrous timidity at the Battle in the Aix Roads. His political career as a radical politician was similarly jeopardized by impulsive attacks against the sitting government, and while he had a series of stunning military victories later in life as the admiral of several South American navies, each was followed by political wrangling and disappointment.
Christopher Lloyd's popular biography (first published in 1947) is as brisk and engaging as the novels that Cochrane inspired. It is a well-balanced portrayal of a man who, despite his heroism, invention (he proposed poison gas as a weapon a full hundred years before its usage), and idealistic commitment to liberal causes, was never given the opportunity to achieve his true genius. --John Longenbaugh