Six of the Best; A Pantheon of Great British Heroes

Six of the Best; A Pantheon of Great British Heroes

Front cover featuring half a union jack and six griffins

Author: Sean Brunton (Christ's 1986)

Publisher: Austin Macauley

This is a book about heroism. It consists of a collection of 6 mini-biographies or essays. The British heroes celebrated are Richard the Lionheart, Sir William Wallace, Lord Nelson, The Duke of Wellington, Albert Ball V.C. and Roger Bushell (aka ‘Big X’). Each essay provides an historically accurate biography of their lives and deeds, celebrating their patriotism, bravery and independence of spirit. However, each searches for and focuses on their own particular brand of heroism; for Wallace his defiant belief in freedom; for Nelson, his patriotic quest for honour. I have selected the six characters from our island’s history who best epitomise the true meaning of the word, ‘hero’. As chance would have it, they come as three ‘pairs’ from three distinct periods in our turbulent past. Whilst they are all now very much historical characters, I suggest that they are all still relevant and almost palpably part of our islands’ psyche. Wallace is still very much behind the renewed Scottish drive for independence. The Lion-heart’s conduct in the Middle East still bubbles below the surface; and warrior heroes who frustrated and defied the French in the 18th century and Germans in the 20th are never out of circulation. I have added a ‘hero file’ at the end of each chapter to summarise their deeds and qualities.

Here is a short summary of one chapter:
Admiral Lord Nelson
As if in answer to the nation’s prayers and despite his own self-doubts, Nelson succeeded at Trafalgar in inflicting a crushing defeat upon the combined French and Spanish navy, thereby removing the threat of invasion from our shores at a stroke. The spectre of such a threat was not raised again for another 140 years when, in the Battle of Britain, it was once again only the heroic actions of ‘the few’ which saved ‘the many.’ Trafalgar was a victory brought about by inspiring leadership, ‘animal courage’ and a self-sacrificial attitude to duty and honour. It was the awesome crowning glory of a true hero. Nelson: ‘The Martyred Mariner’. To Byron he was ‘Brittania’s God of War.’ Over 200 years on, one can still drink a toast to him in one of the 250 public houses which honour his name and exploits. As he stands 185 feet above London today, he remains the pre-eminent hero of our entire island history. His is literally the tallest plinth in the pantheon. For his fearlessness, dash and patriotism, he is the very core of British defiance at its most formidable.

Publication date: 
Friday 29 October 2021

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