Top positive review
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Enjoyable and accessible
on 6 September 2010
Wellington is one of the most famous and written about figures in British history.
Snow's work (I only realised it was the telly man half way through the book) seeks to be an immediate and above all `human', account of the great man and the soldiers who fought with him.
Drawing from some of the famous accounts written by the participants, including Harry Smith and Edward Costello, To War With Wellington grabs your interest from the first page.
The characters amongst the senior officers, such as `Black Bob' Robert Crauford and Thomas Picton are well drawn, mostly through the accounts of their soldiers
This is in no way an exhaustive account of Wellington's career from the Peninsula War onwards - many battles and sieges are only referred to in passing, while others are passed by with only a few paragraphs.
What we do get is a very enjoyable romp through Wellington's career. We don't find an awful lot out about his life before Portugal, but we do get a real flavour of life at war in Napoleonic times.
Wellington himself is cold and aloof, but his attention to detail shows why he was such a successful general.
He may have called his soldiers the `scum of the earth' but he made sure they were fed and looked after, realising, as many commanders of that age did not, that their welfare was crucial to his success.
Attention to detail, courage under fire, amazing luck and tactical mastery were all attributes which led to Wellington's success, Snow says, and he develops a narrative which produces compelling arguments to back this up.