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The Battle: A New History of the Battle of Waterloo Paperback – 8 Jun 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (8 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843543109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843543107
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 104,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"'This is not just the best book on Waterloo I've read, it's also one of the most original and stimulating works of military history I've come across in years. *****' Simon Shaw, Mail On Sunday 'A thoroughly readable, exciting account of a great clash of arms... Brilliant.' Mark Adkin, author of The Waterloo Companion 'Perhaps the most readable and original account for many years.' John Childs, Professor of History, University of Leeds 'Alessandro Barbero's new book deserves to be read by anyone with an interest in warfare.' Dr Gary Sheffield, King's College London"

About the Author

Alessandro Barbero teaches Medieval Studies at the Universita del Piemonte Orientale. In 1996, his novel, set in the Napoleonic era, was awarded the Strega Prize, Italy's most prestigious literary award.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By schlockhorror on 27 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book quite frankly deserves its 5 stars just for the translation job. At no point do you ever feel you're reading something that's been written in a different language and translated. It takes real skill to do this so well and so unobtrusively, so full marks to John Cullen for his work here - it's a pleasure to read.

There are some very, very trivial mis-steps, perhaps. Various British units are described as 'fusiliers', when in fact the units concerned are elite rifle-armed troops. This, I conjecture, may be a mistranslation from or a misuse in the original. It is the very easiest and most excusable of mistakes to make. The same word could be appropriated by different armies and made to mean something different in each, and 'fusilier' was. There were indeed "Royal Fusiliers" in the British army, but despite the title they didn't carry rifles. Confusingly, there were also fusiliers in the French and Prussian armies too, which were respectively bog-standard line and light infantry, also not armed with rifles....it is not surprising small errors like this creep in, but they do not detract from the result.

The structure is pleasing. Instead of chunky chapters dealing with a whole phase of the battle, the author breaks things down into much shorter episodes, so that the advance, repulse, countercharge and flight of d'Erlon's corps covers several chapters in succession, for example.

I only found one authorial error, relating to a friendly-fire incident, but otherwise Sr Barbero seemed to this reviewer to have his facts straight and in the right order.

Refreshingly free of nationalistic bias, this is both a very good readable starter account of the battle, but is also good if you have already read many others and want to focus on the events, rather than the later arguments about them.

A well-earned five stars by author and translator.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Gary Amos on 29 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This is certainly a well written book and a decent translation, although you'll have to forgive the odd discrepancy - the term 'Fusilier' is frequently used instead of 'infantry'.

As a primer, it doesn't have enough detailed maps, but you should be able to get by with the ones included. However, the author does give clear explanations of the arms and their roles and is quite explicit as to the location of various formations during the battle.

I didn't detect any significant bias - all nations were given a fair summary, which is a change from the now fashionable attempts to prove that the very few British troops who actually made it in time for the game were drunk, incompetent or cowardly and they were all Irish anyway. The German and Netherlands units aren't all hard done by, the Prussians aren't infallible supermen and the French aren't all Hollywood heroes making a last stand.

If you're a history buff and familiar with the battle or you're just curious, this is a very good read. It's not a seminal study and doesn't claim to be, but it does give a decent account of the battle and interesting insights into the main characters.

If you're thinking of buying it, do so: it's an entertaining read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. W. Peake on 13 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Product The Battle book by Alessandro Barbero

Excellent move by move description of the battle which included what a French column was and its advantages and disadvantages, same for British line and difference between 2 deep and 4 deep line and why. Easily understood by layman. Same goes for other 'technical' points. Details here and there of personal experiences kept my interest, author is anything but dry. As always I would ideally like bigger maps with more detail, but again I did not buy a specialist £40 book.

Sent on time, excellent condition, full marks.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Harrison on 24 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent and detailed account of the day of the Battle of Waterloo from all perspectives. That the author is Italian means he views the subject matter unencumbered by any nationalistic views or bias.

This is one of those books (like Shelby Foote's description of Gettysburg and Niall Barr writing about El Alamein) that people will read and then fully understand the battle and the experiences that those there went through. I very much hope that there will be more such books from this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Palmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Comprehensive and well laid out, The Battle really benefits from Barbero's use of short pithy chapters. Each is enjoyably punchy and succinct, and the large number, and rapid progress you can make through them, make for a galloping good read.

I'd have liked a glossary, 'cast list' and order of battle. Regarding the latter, he explains, as indeed do most recent writers on such subjects, that armies on the ground never matched their theoretical or 'paper' strengths. But even so, a concentrated listing of units and numbers involved (perhaps as an appendix?), even if approximate, would have made for a reference as handy, and to my mind as essential, as good maps. Talking of maps, the maps here are all grouped together near the front of the book, and are okay, although I've seen clearer/better. The inclusion of a portion of the Ferrari & Capitaine map, as used by Boney (and also the source for Wellington's maps), is a nice touch. There are also a good number of evocative illustrations.

There's an immense mount of interesting and indeed often exciting detail, as the concentrated carnage ebbs and flows along what remains an unusually contracted front, given the overall numbers that were involved at Waterloo. Barbero's writing is excellent, and he does a superb job of evoking the excitement of the battle, capturing it in all it's horrifying and gory glory. The grand scale of this intense battle is humanised by Barbero's liberal peppering of his narrative with piquant observations from participants, making for a gripping read.

I was glued to this book from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'd recommend it highly.
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