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Scottish Battles from Mons Graupius to Culloden (Canongate) [Paperback]

John Sadler
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 15 Jun 1996 --  
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Book Description

15 Jun 1996 Canongate
Scottish history has been shaped and defined by a series of great battles. John Sadler gives the first full military history of Scotland for many years. From Mons Graupius to Culloden, he shows how terrain and politics shaped the campaigns and decisive engagements we still remember today. Each chapter also features sections on the development of warfare - its tactics, equipment and styles of fighting. For the military historian, Scotland is a fascinating example of how a small country can fight off domination by a far larger neighbour. From Celtic warfare to the feudal host to the professional armies of the eighteenth century, from guerrilla warfare to the pitched battle, from siege to Border Reiver, Scotland is unique in having had almost every major type of warfare taking place within its frontiers. Battles such as Bannockburn, Flodden, and Culloden, have a resonance and impact far beyond Scotland. John Sadler weaves chronicle, narrative, and analysis together in a masterly way, recreating the drama and passion of centuries past.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (15 Jun 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086241508X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862415082
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.7 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,017,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A thrilling account of a turbulent nation' --Scotland on Sunday --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Sadler's main specialism is in military history, as an accomplished author, lecturer, battlefield tour guide, heritage professional and historical interpreter. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Sunderland Centre For Lifelong Learning since 1998. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Topic But . . . 14 Jun 2003
Format:Paperback
This is an interesting topic, but unfortunately this work has a scissors and paste feel to it, as if it were thrown together from miscellaneous sources without any deep understanding of the subject. The structure is very anecdotal and episodic and the chronology jumps around willy-nilly without any good reason. The lack of balance in the work can be demonstated by the fact that the flashy but insignificant military campaigns of Montrose get 34 pages while the vital campaigns conducted by Bruce up to the Battle of Bannockburn are peremptorily dealt with in less than 3 pages. Bannockburn is adequately covered, but the campaigns leading up to this crowning victory were perhaps even more important.
Instead of having his own clear ideas of the relevant importance of different periods and events and seeking out his sources accordingly, Sadler's writing seems sadly determined by whatever sources are at hand.
Another point about the work is the writing style or lack of it. Unable to make the events interesting or dramatic by a sincere and clear style, the author time and again throws in anachronistic cliches and coinages in an attempt to sound clever and informed. To give a few examples: on page 126, he talks about a group of royalist camp followers being "casually butchered" as if this was some sort of spaghetti Western. On the same page we have the anachronistic and awkward phrase: "Baillie was obeyed to 'work out his notice'" as if his superiors were going to 'take away his key to the executive washroom'. This kind of trite phrasing just detracts from the historical tone, a cardinal error as one of the reasons many of us read history is to temporarily escape from the modern world.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty ordinary 16 Jan 2014
By Junius
Format:Paperback
There are many books about battlefields in Britain and Scotland in particular. They run through most of the battles fought and include battle maps and pictures of sites past and present. This one isn't much different from the others. It offers very little that is new to anyone who has read this type of book before. The space allotted to each battle is brief (oddly, Clifton, a skirmish, gets more pages than the first battle of Preston, a rather larger battle). True, there's an index, bibliography and footnotes, which is unusual in this genre. The book covers battles in Scotland and those in England fought by Scots forces. There's some comments about changes in arms, armour and tactics, but nothing special; nothing say on the Scots Militia of the seventeenth and eighteenth century or on the separate Scottish and English military establishments pre Union.

Expect numerous factual inaccuracies, doubtless because the author has been happy to limit his research to fairly standard books on the topic - no delving into archives and other primary sources here (which is the historians' job). To give a few examples. Cumberland did not have 2,400 cavalry at Culloden, but nearer 700. Wills did not have five regiments of cavalry and three of infantry at Preston but six and one, respectively. There's simplistic judgements on commanders and rulers; eg James II is 'totalitarian' (not a term known in the 1680s) and Lord George Murray is praised without his limited military experience being noted. The author talks about experiences of those involved in battle being important but rarely uses the writings of warriors.

Anyone knowing nothing in the topic hitherto will certainly be informed, but beware that facts and judgements offered here are less than wonderful. If you have some knowledge of these conflicts, I do not think you'll benefit from this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars battles 2 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This interesting book covers the very many battles that have taken place in Scotland from AD84 -Mons Grapius -right up to Culloden in 1746.
For each battle the author gives the political background of the time,the significance and consequence of the battle and where the weapons and tactics used.
There is a chapter on"The Thin Red Line" covering the time up to the present when Scots fought in the British army as soldiers of the Queen.
There are 16 battle plans which are very badly presented as the titles of the places are unreadable without a magnifying glass.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Rainy Day Read 5 May 2000
By Kevin Tompkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Sadler gives a taste of bloody Scottish history that urges you to dig deeper. Each battle is covered in depth, with maps and eyewitness accounts whenever possible. Flavor is added with tactics, weaponry, and a historical review for the period of each battle. My only complaint is that a full map of Scotland and northern England is not included- this makes it difficult to follow accounts of the Border Wars and the maneuvering leading up to each contest.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite history capsules 5 July 2013
By Janet Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great encapsulated history of the nation of Scotland. It traces the interactions between social and military developments by showing how improving military capabilities changed the way local populations built their defenses and revised their social structures and vice versa. It's a well written study in a nation's military and socio-political history.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Topic But... 2 July 2000
By Captain Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an interesting topic, but unfortunately this work has a scissors and paste feel to it, as if it were thrown together from miscellaneous sources without any deep understanding of the subject. The structure is very anecdotal and episodic and the chronology jumps around willy-nilly without any good reason. The lack of balance in the work can be demonstated by the fact that the flashy but insignificant military campaigns of Montrose get 34 pages while the vital campaigns conducted by Bruce up to the Battle of Bannockburn are peremptorily dealt with in less than 3 pages. Bannockburn is adequately covered, but the campaigns leading up to this crowning victory were perhaps even more important.
Instead of having his own clear ideas of the relevant importance of different periods and events and seeking out his sources accordingly, Sadler's writing seems sadly determined by whatever sources are at hand.
Another point about the work is the writing style or lack of it. Unable to make the events interesting or dramatic by a sincere and clear style, the author time and again throws in anachronistic cliches and coinages in an attempt to sound clever and informed. To give a few examples: on page 126, he talks about a group of royalist camp followers being "casually butchered" as if this was some sort of spaghetti Western. On the same page we have the anachronistic and awkward phrase: "Baillie was obeyed to 'work out his notice'" as if his superiors were going to 'take away his key to the executive washroom'. This kind of trite phrasing just detracts from the historical tone, a cardinal error as one of the reasons many of us read history is to temporarily escape from the modern world. On the opposite page we have the unfortunate coinage, the "reformadoes", sounding more like a cheesy snack than reorganized companies of troops. The single worst item of his style however must be the incredibly stupid tautology repeatwd on almost every page where he refers to a "commanded body of shot" or a "commanded body of horse" as if it were the exception rather than the rule for groups of soldiers to be commanded.
Scottish battles is a fascinating topic. If you are not too fussy about the writing style, even this book can be quite readable in the same way as a magazine on the toilet, however, the more I read it the more the style irritates me. Hopefully, something a lot better written will come along soon.
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