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Fusiliers: How the British Army Lost America but Learned to Fight Paperback – 15 May 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (15 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571224881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571224883
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 319,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Praise for "Fusiliers": "his [Urban's] assiduous research uncovers numerous human-interest stories. The paucity of records generally precludes composition of unit histories for the war, but Urban capitalizes on an exception, one that readers accustomed to the Patriot side of the struggle will not want to miss."-"Booklist" "A spirited portrait of life during the American Revolution from the perspective of the British army...comprehensive and engrossing account...A passionately presented book full of intriguing revelations."-"Kirkus" Praise for Mark Urban's "Wellington's Rifles": "Urban successfully rounds out the character of this notable unit and achieves an authoritative history."--"Booklist" """A fascinating narrative...Urban gives readers remarkable insight into the battles of the Peninsular War from Talavera to Tarbes...Fans of Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe saga will find this an often eye-opening supplement."--"Library Journal" "The six years make for a great tale, and Mark Urban tells it superbly. If you like Sharpe, then this book is a must."--Bernard Cornwell, author of "Sharpe's Rifles"

Book Description

Fusiliers by Mark Urban is the thrilling and untold story of one Redcoat regiment's epic battle against the Americans.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By N. H. Hyde on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Centred on the elite 23rd (Royal Welch) Fuziliers [sic] during the American War of Independence, this book also gives an excellent account of many of the other units involved, since the light and grenadier companies of regiments were often hived off and brigaded with those of other units.

As we have come to expect from Urban, the battle accounts are both accurate and stirring, but I particulary like the way he draws on personal accounts of the war from both men and officers of both sides, many of them never published before, making it a highly engaging read. I learned a great deal about commanders such as Howe and Cornwallis, Balfour and Calvert, and the role they played not only in the fortunes of the 23rd Foot, but also in the political and military heirarchy of the time.

Readers new to the period may be surprised to learn that although the war was lost, the British and their allies suffered few actual defeats in the field; on the contrary, it was the remarkable ability of the Americans to recover from defeat after defeat that ultimately brought them victory.

The AWI has always aroused passions on both sides of the Atlantic, and whilst he concentrates on the fighting and campaigning of this conflict, Urban does not shy away from examining the tragic atrocities committed by both sides that served to polarise opinion during the war. This is a sober and refreshing antidote to some of the one-sided episodes in movies such as Mel Gibson's "The Patriot".

Overall, a thorough and humane examination of Great Britain's first major humiliation on the world stage, and the effects it had on the army the British are still justifiably proud of today. Highly recommended.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. W. Griffiths on 3 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
The author has a depth of knowledge of events which are enlightening and entertaining. Much effort appears to have gone into unearthing contemporary accounts giving a refreshing and unbiased view of events with a ring of truth about them unlike the standard texts which can be misleading generalisations. Well worth the money, not only for a gripping read as well as an historical record .
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jon Latimer on 22 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mark Urban has sought to recreate his earlier success with 'Rifles' by following a single regiment through a war. In choosing the 23rd Regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers), he has plumped on a unit that fought throughout the American War of Independence from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, and can therefore act as illustrative of the war as a whole. Unlike the 95th Rifles, however, the 23rd were a 'line' regiment with none of the glamour of 'special' troops, although much of the action surrounds their detached light company. And given the very fluid organization of the army it is easy to see problems trying to carry out a single regiment narrative thread. As his Royal Welch witnesses come and go, he has had to use eyewitnesses wherever he could get them; not all are Royal Welchmen, nor are they necessarily eyewitnesses to the actual events he is discussing.

Mr Urban's lack of military background and wider understanding is sometimes apparent. As Donald Graves has noted, his belief that Revolutionary War tactics were important in Europe is dubious, and he is unfairly harsh on David Dundas. The essential need to train the army on a common doctrine was not possible until the Duke of York became Commander-in-Chief, with the full weight of Royal authority behind him. If the correct solution was a fusion of the `German' and `American' schools, that was never possible given the stresses of service until Sir Ralph Abercromby got nearly two months to properly train his army in 1800-1 before Egypt. He was the first British commander to have that opportunity after the reserve of trained troops was dissipated in the West Indies in 1793-5.

Due to these reservations I was only going to give the book four stars, but as a former Royal Welchman myself I thought, 'How can I!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure whether Urban truly intended to write a narrative history that not only sets right many of the injustices of much of the scholarship on this era, as well as comment on the current operations in Afghanistan.

Whatever his intent, this book is brilliant, in many ways surpassing 'Rifles'. The characters are brought to life in vivid colours, their flaws and their strengths, the arrogance of certain 'Minden men', the self-righteousness on both sides, and the sheer hypocrisy of the ideologues. This is not a book for those 'Patriot' lovers; this is a very real history. The maps are first class, and Urban, as we have come to expect, cuts through the fog of war to deliver stunning detail on everything from the tactical, strategic and operational levels of war.

Any young officer, or aspiring officer, should take the lessons so clearly portrayed in it; learning organisations defeat insurgencies, as we so nearly did in the 13 Colonies. For those not in the military, take heed anyway; read this as a history of the American war, and apply much of the logic to Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is what we are up against. The lessons are clear: Doctrine, tactics, strategy, all have to work together.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Neil Lennon on 13 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fusiliers starts by telling the story of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in America during the War of Independence through the eyes of a number of different individuals letters from varying Officers and ranks. This makes for an interesting narrative but the story soon loses its way as Mark Urban obviously struggled to find one consistent source of information to cover the whole war. As a result individuals you have been following leave the regiment or are killed or injured in battle quite early on, making the whole story seem disjointed and the characters hard to empaphise with.

Nor do I agree with the claim of the sub title "How the British Army lost America but learned how to fight". It is clear from reading the history of the previous French and Indian Wars that Britain learned its lesson on frontier fighting during that conflict. By the time of the War of Independence Britain had already succesfully learned to incorporate light companies into its regiments and to employ flanking strategies to deal with the American militia. I'm not sure Mark Urban ever really gives any convincing arguements to back up his claim except to say that the Americans were still better at this type of skirmishing warfare.

As a history of the War of Independence "Fusiliers" is too tightly focused on the military aspects, and specifically on the actions of the one regiment. For a broader overview I would reccomend Robert Harvey's book "A Few Bloody Noses" in its place.

This book would be of most interest to someone specifically interested in the military history of the War of Independence as there are some very good explanations of the weapons and tactics used and some detailed maps. However, it is not an easy read and could have benefited from more of a narrative history approach to add more colour and more descriptions to the story told in the letters quoted throughout.
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