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Corunna ('British battles series) [Paperback]

Christopher Hibbert
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1961 'British battles series
The Battle of Corunna, which was fought on 16 January 1809, saved a British army from annihilation but resulted in the tragic death of a fine general - Sir John Moore. With the aid of surviving eye-witness accounts the author provides a horrifying picture of the hardships and suffering of this bitter campaign. 'Fast-flowing, taut and economical...the pithy thumb-nail sketches are masterly, the account of the battle superb' Times Literary Supplement 'Told with passion and clarity...a compelling book; the main lines of the campaign are clear and the incidents vividly memorable' Sunday Telegraph
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Batsford (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000CL2V5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Christopher Hibbert wrote more than fifty acclaimed books, including The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici and Rome: The Biography of a City. A leading popular historian whose works reflect meticulous scholarship, he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died in December 2008.

Product Description

About the Author

Christopher Hibbert was educated at Radley and Oxford. He served as an infantry officer during the war, was twice wounded and was awarded the Military Cross in 1945. Described by Professor J.H. Plumb as 'a writer of the highest ability', he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an Hon. D. Litt of Leicester University. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was like I was there! 2 Feb 2005
By A Customer
I knew a little about what happened at Corunna before I read this book but wanted to know more about Sir John Moore's campaign against the French. I wasn't disappointed. By the end of the book I felt like I'd climbed every snow-covered hill and suffered the starvation, frostbite, despair, and anger of the men, not to mention their confusion over the actions of their general.
I'm a huge fan of history, particularly if its about the Napoleonic wars, but I'm not a huge fan of history books filled with fact after fact and nothing to 'hook' you. This book is nothing of the sort. Written like a story, it follows Sir John Moore's advance and retreat from start to finish, including his death and the response to the failed campaign in Britain (you may feel a slight outrage (having marched so far and endured so much) about this part).
The book includes pictures, extracts from memoirs and despatches written during and after the campaign and a very informative bibliography for those readers who want to know more. Which brings me to my only criticism. I realise that, as part of the Great Battles series, this book couldn't have been much longer, but there were some times when I felt like I was being rushed along to the end at the expense of detail.
I would recommend this book to someone who has a slight curiosity about what happened at Corunna as it is quite short and so less daunting than some of the other titles available. Those of you who want more depth and detail may prefer something else.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Britain's Napoleonic Dunkirk 2 May 2011
Corunna ('British battles series)- Britain's Napoleonic Dunkirk tells how the expeditionary force advances from Portugal into Spain only to find that the Spanish armies were all talk and unable to unite with them against Napoleon's invading forces. Intelligence informs the British commander that he is outgunned so he cuts his losses and, much to the chagrin of his men, starts a retreat so that they may live to fight another day. Now though the British are no longer welcomed as saviors, the weather has changed, food is scarce and soldiers are disgruntled that they are retreating before they have even fought the enemy. The book gives a broader, in depth and personal background to the events which often make it eminently readable, much like a story - full of the disorder, dissatisfaction, suffering and hunger of soldiers and their wives retreating through the frozen mountains of north-west Spain to Corunna - where they made their brief but valiant stand as they embarked on the waiting ships.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant history of Corunna 28 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was recommended to me as still one of the best histories of Sir John Moores Corunna campaign in Spain during the Napoleonic wars, and despite being written in the 1960s is much better than many others I have read.

It is very clearly written and detailed and in some places reads like a novel and its impossible not to feel the cold and hunger of the starving frost bitten soldiers as they struggled over the mountains of Galicia relentlessly pursued by the French. The book is slim but detailed with some maps and some pictures of main participants.

It was a remarkable campaign, Moore landed with a British army of 20,000 men to support the Spanish fight the French but the Spanish collapsed and the British found themselves isolated in Northern Spain with winter coming and heavily outnumbered by the French. So Moore had no choice but to take his poorly equipped Army (in many cases with their families) through the mountains to be evacuated. The sick had to be left behind along with many guns and supplies but he kept the men going, one scene that stays in my mind is how many marched with no boots and the road was red with the blood of so many shoeless soldiers and their injured feet. Everytime the French came near a fierce fight ensued and they were driven off. Finally they reached the port of Corunna and during the battle the majority of the Army was embarked safely by the Royal Navy and got back to England but Sir John Moore himself was killed and buried on the ramparts of the town. A poem was written about this. Wellington later said that without Moore Britain wouldn't have won the war, and without him the majority of men would never have escaped in this campaign.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant story of the Retreat to Corunna - 1808-09 18 July 2002
By Susan Smith - Published on Amazon.com
I read this wonderful little book, first published in 1961, in preparation for a forthcoming visit to northwest Spain to follow Sir John Moore's retreat to Corunna. Hibbert is an author for whom I have a great regard and this early work clearly demonstrates not only his sturdy research but also his elegiac and polished prose. In such a short book, long descriptions and deep discussion of tactics are not possible. However, he explains to the reader who may not be familiar with this episode of British military history exactly how the retreat came about whilst sketching the personalities, foibles and strengths of the major characters of the campaign.
The generals such as Moore, Napier, Paget, Craufurd and so on are not the only people we learn about because Hibbert draws on memoirs and other materials written by the junior officers and the enlisted men such as the famous Rifleman Harris of the 95th. There are little vignettes such as the dumping of silver money to lighten the load, high up in the frozen Cantabrian Mountains, women giving birth at the side the road in the mud and rain and the hooves of the horses and mules bleeding as they struggled to haul artillery pieces.
A truly beautiful and unforgettable early book by this brilliant historian. A moving, sad and poignant story which still causes debate today. Very highly recommended
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Envigorating 2 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Simply put, an awesome book. He puts forth the mental anguish and fatigue well through diaries and such sources. He also explains the multiple battles well.
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