1773年夏天，14岁的霍雷肖·纳尔逊参加了一次北极探险，这差点就结束了他的海军生涯。这次远征得到了英国皇家学会和乔治三世国王的支持，目的是在大西洋和太平洋之间找到一条可航行的北方通道。在康斯坦丁·菲普斯上尉的指挥下，英国皇家海军“赛马”号和“胴体”号两艘炸弹艇进行了装备和加强。那是一个极其寒冷的北极夏季，船只被困在远离斯匹茨卑尔根岛的冰层中，无法开路，直到几天后风向改变，冰层破裂。这些船只被解救并返航。在这次旅行中，年轻的纳尔逊指挥着一艘较小的船，一艘由12名水手驾驶的四桨快艇。在这次行动中，他帮助“赛马号”的一艘船上的船员免遭一群愤怒的海象的袭击。他还有一次更著名的遭遇，当时他试图获得熊皮作为礼物送给父亲，这一事件后来成为纳尔逊传奇的一部分。这本书借鉴了船上的日志和来自国家档案馆的探险队指挥官菲普斯的日志，描绘了探险队和船上生活的画面。它还使用舰艇集合簿详细说明了舰艇上的船员，给出了不同的角色和级别。 The book is illustrated using some of the ship's drawings and charts and pictures of many objects used on the ship, while a navigational chart of the route taken has been created from the logbooks. The book also looks at the overall concept of naval exploration as set in train by Joseph Banks and the Royal Society. The fact that the expedition failed as a result of poor planning with potentially tragic results demonstrates the difficulties and uncertainties of such an expedition. It also looks at a great naval commander at the earliest stage of his career and considers how the experience might have shaped his later career and attitudes. Other great captains and voyages are discussed alongside Nelson, including Captain Cook and his exploration of the south seas and the later ill-fated northern journeys of Franklin and Shackleton.