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Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815 [Hardcover]

Roger Knight
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 30.00
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Book Description

24 Oct 2013

From Roger Knight, established by the multi-award winning The Pursuit of Victory as 'an authority ... none of his rivals can match' (N.A.M. Rodger), Britain Against Napoleon is the first book to explain how the British state successfully organised itself to overcome Napoleon - and how very close it came to defeat

For more than twenty years after 1793, the French army was supreme in continental Europe. How was it that despite multiple changes of government and the assassination of a Prime Minister, Britain survived and eventually won a generation-long war against a regime which at its peak in 1807 commanded many times the resources and manpower?

This book looks beyond the familiar exploits (and bravery) of the army and navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It shows the degree to which, because of the magnitude and intensity of hostilities, the capacities of the whole British population were involved: industrialists, farmers, shipbuilders, gunsmiths and gunpowder manufacturers. The intelligence war was also central; but no participants were more important, Knight argues, than the bankers and international traders of the City of London, without whom the armies of Britain's allies could not have taken the field.

ROGER KNIGHT was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. In 2005 he published, with Allen Lane/Penguin, The Pursuit of Victory: the life and achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. The present book is a culmination of his life-long interest in the workings of the late eighteenth-century British state.

'Occasionally a work of history changes entirely and forever our perception of the past. Roger Knight's Britain Against Napoleon does just that' - History Today

'Knight manages not only to convey the magnitude of the war but make this absorbing book an essential addition to the history of the Napoleonic Wars' - Ben Wilson, Sunday Telegraph (Book of the Week)

'It is a rare gift to tell you things that you didn't want to know in a compelling manner, and Knight has that gift in spades. There is scarcely a wasted sentence here, not a duff page, not a chapter that does not bring you very close to the realities of total war and the justice of Knight's claims' - David Crane, Spectator


Frequently Bought Together

Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815 + Wellington: The Path to Victory 1769-1814 + Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799-1815 (Napoleon Vol 2)
Price For All Three: 61.20

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (24 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184614177X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846141775
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.4 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Occasionally a work of history changes entirely and forever our perception of the past. Roger Knight's Britain Against Napoleon does just that (History Today)

It is an enormous canvas, yet Knight manages not only to convey the magnitude of the war but make this absorbing book an essential addition to the history of the Napoleonic Wars. Above all this is a book about the forging of modern Britain. The government machine and the private sector were forced under pressure of war to become more efficient and to work together (Ben Wilson Sunday Telegraph)

A wonderfully disorienting read. Knight is just about prepared to give the great names in the drama their walk-on parts, but for him the real heroes of the struggle against Napoleon are not Wellington or Nelson or Collingwood or Cochrane, but the clerks and administrators and 'silent men of business' who put Britain's armies in the field and kept her ships at sea and her allies in funds and who ultimately won the war ... There is scarcely a wasted sentence here, not a duff page, not a chapter that does not bring you very close to the realities of total war and the justice of Knight's claims (David Crane Spectator)

About the Author

Roger Knight was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. In 2005 he published, with Allen Lane/Penguin, The Pursuit of Victory: the life and achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. The present book is a culmination of his life-long interest in the workings of the late eighteenth-century British state.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book apart on the wars against Bonaparte. 1 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight into the Napoleonic Wars and the logistics behind equipping, organising and financing a major war, starting from the nadir of the 1783 defeat to the American Colonies, when British capabilities were called into question. Mr Knight gives the practical details of how to run a major war, rather than tales of battles and derring-do, yet the book remains easy to read, despite the length,though it is also shorter than the Amazon page length suggests, with 250+ pages of appendices, references and indices. Mr Knight's knowledge and attention to detail are impressive,yet he wears it all lightly. Thoroughly recommended, even if, like me, you know little of the campaigns outside of "Sharpe."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rice pudding 19 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover
It makes me sad to contradict the enthusiastic reviews above, for clearly an enormous amount of research and enthusiasm have gone into writing this book.
But there is no point to these Amazon reviews if they are not able to warn off potential readers, and no point in research if the author cannot communicate its results in an enjoyable form.
In this case, his information having been divided into many separate (and repetitive headings), reading the result is like wading through rice pudding. By the time I found myself revisiting the abortive raid on Antwerp for the fourth time, I decided to close the book for the last time.
Worse, because of its uninformative index, I cannot see it being much use as a textbook or for reference.
A terrible shame.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class history 8 Dec 2013
By Kit W
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Detailed account that is excellent reading for anyone hooked on fiction based on Nelson's navy. Provides all the historical context that you need.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think this is a riveting account of Britain's relationship with Europe and in particular the machinations of the French Revolutionary war and Napolionic wars and how they affected Britain and the government of the time.

The book also deals with the British governmental structure, the personalities involved, how they were influenced, the decisions they made, their strengths and weaknesses and the outcomes that resulted.

The work is obviously the product of some extensive and detailed research and comes together in a really captivating read about momentous times for the people of this country under the threat of invasion at a time of sail powered warships.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new perspective on a familiar story 28 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book explains the financial, commercial and industrial underpinning to Britain's efforts in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The subject may seem dry, but turns out to be fascinating.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English history 21 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very,very interesting part of English history. Written by someone who has total knowledge of his subject. I recommend this book to anyone interested in this period of history.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was my choice for my economics book club, and it almost caused a rebellion. Although very positively reviewed everywhere, the book we read was dry, overly detailed and overlong. A few members accused me of having wasted a week of their lives, and spoilt their christmas holiday. Here are my notes:

Overall:
Some interesting information, but overlong, over-detailed, poorly structured, and lacks context. In particular if the aim is to compare the performance of Britain with France, then some discussion of French performance is required. To those of us interested in the broad themes of history, rather than the minutiae of which historical character did what, when, this book could form the basis of a useful pamphlet. It really needed a good editor.

The good:
1. Very good on logistics. I had not appreciated the difficulties of transporting an army to the continent and keeping it supplied. It is clear that Britain had no chance of confronting Napoleon on the field given its logistical problems. It could never hope to land an army larger than 70,000. Also, I had not appreciated how Britain's dominance of the sea gave it a communications advantage, in that messengers could travel more quickly by sea than overland.
2. Although it is not stated explicitly it is possible to see how the need to fund Britain's war effort led to a widening of the tax base, which in turn led to both demands for a widening of the franchise and reform of govt institutions. Middle class tax payers demanded both that their money were spent wisely and efficiently, rather than on patronage, and that they were represented in parliament.
3. Footnotes. As in many dry academic text most of the entertainment was to be found in the footnotes.

The bad:
1.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and readable
Well written and the book gives the amount of factual detail that the title implies. A good addition to the other works that deal with the period.
Published 4 months ago by J. Farrant
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I bought this for my husband who found it very informative and well structured. Despite the necessary mass of detail he found it surprisingly readable.
Published 5 months ago by H. M. Kingston
5.0 out of 5 stars Britain Against Napoleon
This a fascinating book, and well worth buying even if one is not greatly interested in History. The decisions taken by those in government during this period were brave in the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Savill Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, detailed yet very readable
An interesting look at the commercial and economic processes that were used to allow Britain to overcome Bonaparte in what was actually the first world war
Published 6 months ago by Mr Andy Laughton
5.0 out of 5 stars a history worthy of Braudel
This wonderful book describes what went on behind the scenes to ensure that the Royal Navy and the army had the resources needed to fight Napoleon. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Goff
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
fascinating insight into how the wars affected almost everybody in the british isles and the massive advances made in the period. Read more
Published 7 months ago by angus sinclair
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Fascinating book, so thoroughly researched by the author and full of facts relating to the period.
I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in our history.
Published 7 months ago by C M G HENDY
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