Sunday, June 12, 2005

Nelson and 'all powerful markets'

Men of Honour: Trafalgar and the making of an English hero, by Adam Nicolson, Harper Collins, 2005. Reviewed in the Sunday Times, 12 June 2005 by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

The review contains a thoughtful gem:

“He discusses Nelson’s insistence on his captains’ freedom to act on their own initiative in terms both of backward-looking medievalism and of Adam Smith’s future-shaping vision of the all-powerful market.”

What can Nicolson mean by this linking of Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805 with Adam Smith (who died in 1790)? What ‘future shaping vision of the all-powerful market’ did Adam Smith write about?

Enough to make it necessary to buy Nicolson’s book, apart from a genuine interest I have in Nelson’s navy, having written a serious study of Captain Bligh (Captain Bligh: the man and his mutinies, Duckworth, London, 1989).

I will in due course report on what I find.

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