When I heard that Osprey was including The Battle of Borodino in its line-up for their 2012 Campaign series, I was both interested and worried. For true Napoleonic fans know that Napoleon's hash was settled in Russia, not on the fields of Waterloo, so any new books on Borodino in English are welcome. However, I was concerned that Osprey would make the same mistake it did years ago with Stalingrad and try to cram too much into a slim 96-page volume. After finishing Borodino 1812, I felt that some of my concern was justified - trying to jam Napoleon's entire Russian campaign into one volume weakens the value of the final product - although the author, Philip Haythornthwaite, had the skill to carry it off with great aplomb. In short, Napoleonic aficionados will appreciate the artwork but probably bristle that barely twenty pages of text were given to the actual battle. On the other hand, general readers who don't want to tackle the 1,000+ pages of Austin P. Britten's 1812: The March on Moscow (1993)will appreciate this as a good introduction to the Russian Campaign. Overall, the author provides a good narrative with excellent supporting artwork, although the maps are not always adequate for following his narrative.
The initial sections of the volume, on opposing commanders, plans and forces, are a bit brief. The author provides capsule bios on eight French/Polish and nine Russian commanders, which should be more than sufficient for general readers. The other two topics are lumped into one 8-page section, which does not flow particularly well. There is no real discussion in this section about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing forces, merely a general laydown. The author does provide a 3 ½ page order of battle, which extends down to regimental-level. Napoleon's initial invasion, the Battle of Smolensk and Kutusov's assumption of command are covered in 12 pages, which is quick but adequate.
The Battle of Borodino is the main part of the volume and the coverage is fairly decent. There is more detail in this section about what specifics units and commanders are doing, although still mostly at the division-level. The final section covers the fall of Moscow and Napoleon's retreat to the Berezina; here and there, the author inserts something I haven't read in the last 4-5 books I've read about this campaign, but nothing terribly unique. The author's account of the retreat is solid, if brief. As for analysis, the author suggests that Napoleon underestimated the task in invading Russia, which would seem blatantly obvious. The last section, on the battlefield today, was disappointing, with no photos of any current monuments at Borodino and precious little information about the museum. Looking at the bibliography, I was struck by the fact that all the sources listed were either English or French - apparently he made no effort to find any Russian sources. Taken together, it would appear that the author neglected to make use of the Internet in researching this volume, which marks it as an Old-style approach to history, seen primarily through English eyes.
Borodino 1812 has three colorful battle scenes by Peter Dennis (Murat at Borodino, fall of the Great Redoubt, the retreat from Moscow). The maps in Borodino 1812 are not very effective. The five 2-D maps (strategic situation at the beginning of the campaign; the line of Napoleon's advance to Borodino; the Battle of Smolensk; Borodino, the opening dispositions; the retreat; the Berezina) are OK as far as general movements and dispositions, but primarily depict corps and division-size formations. The three 3-D BEV maps all depict the Battle of Borodino at various stages during the day, but again, depict mostly corps and a few divisions. The problem is that the BEV maps are too "zoomed out," with gridlines 1-km apart, so that even key features like the Raevsky Redoubt (which is smack-dab in the machine fold of the volume, as usual) and the fleches are lost in the map. The BEVs should have been used to show tactical actions down to at least regimental level (since the text covers this) by zooming in on the key terrain, not trying to show the entire battlefield (and thereby showing little). In an otherwise fine volume, the maps were a disappointment.