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Waterloo Companion: The Complete Guide to History's Most Famous Land Battle [Hardcover]

Mark Adkin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 58.50
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Book Description

13 Oct 2008

There have been many books about Waterloo, but never one to rival this in scale or authority. The text, based on extensive research, including many days spent on the battlefield itself, does far more than simply narrate the events of 18 June 1815. There is as much comment as description. Plans are analyzed, commanders assessed and manoeuvres painstakingly related to the ground. Armies, weapons and tactics are carefully examined and evaluated, and a considerable effort is made to answer the age-old battle questions of who?, when?, where?, how? and why? Neglected aspects of the fighting, such as the performance of the French ‘Grand Battery’ or the Prussian attacks on Plancenoit, are given prominence. A third of the text consists of ‘boxes’, each providing, often in anecdotal form, little known information or the first-hand accounts of those who fought upon this most celebrated of battlefields. The many full colour maps, all specially commissioned for the book, and the numerous diagrams and photographs, the majority in colour, make the pages a feast for the eye, while sixteen pages of original paintings of uniforms make it a collector’s dream.

The book is divided into ten sections:

The Campaign describes Napoleon’s escape from Elba and the dramatic events of the ‘100 days’, and examines the strategy of the three commanders-in-chief - Napoleon, Wellington and Blücher up to the eve of the battle.

Under Orders of Battle there is a comprehensive description of the make-up of the three armies, including order of battle diagrams, which show the organization of the armies, including unit strengths and commanders’ names, down to battalion and battery level.

Command and Control describes the command structures and the backgrounds and careers of the three commanders and all their corps and divisional commanders.

The Battlefield describes the key features of the terrain and the strongpoints of Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte that played such a critical role. Maps are used to show the initial deployment of forces by the opposing commanders. There is also a detailed description and map of the site as it is today, including the location of monuments and plaques, as well as a series of unique panoramic photographs of the present day landscape showing the deployment of forces at key stages in the battle.

 Complete sections are then devoted to The Infantry, The Cavalry, The Artillery and Other Arms and Services (engineers, medical services and logistics units), describing their organization and equipment in detail. There is also an evaluation of the casualties suffered. These sections also include descriptions of the role and tactics of each arm. Numerous diagrams enable the reader to follow, for example, the drill by which an infantry battalion formed squares from lines, or to see how an artillery battery with its attendant limbers and supply wagons was deployed on the battlefield.

 The Highlights describes the key events in the battle: the Allied defence of Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte, the initial French infantry attack, the assaults on the Allied squares by the French cavalry, the defence of Plancenoit against the approaching Prussians, and the dramatic repulse of the final attack by the Imperial Guard. With the help of numerous fully annotated maps, which show the position and movements of each unit, in some cases down to the level of individual companies, the reader can trace the course of the battle in detail while following the lively description of events in the text.

A concluding section is devoted to Myths and Controversies, demolishing some well-established versions of events that have long been accepted as ‘facts’ and analyzing the opposing views of historians on matters such as the importance of the Prussian role in the battle, Wellington’s use of his artillery, Ney’s persistence in mounting the fruitless cavalry charges against Wellington’s squares, and the formation adopted by the Imperial Guard for their final attack.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Waterloo Companion: The Complete Guide to History's Most Famous Land Battle + The Trafalgar Companion: The Complete Guide to History's Most Famous Sea Battle and the Life of Admiral Lord Nelson + The Gettysburg Companion: A Complete Guide to the Decisive Battle of the American Civil War
Price For All Three: 108.92

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books (13 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811718549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811718547
  • Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 23.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 657,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

MARK ADKIN served fourteen years in the British Army and five as a contract officer with the Barbados Defence Force, retiring as a major. Subsequently he worked for the Overseas Civil Service in the British Solomon islands and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (now Kiribati and Tuvalu respectively), where he was probably the last British District Officer anywhere in the world. As Caribbean Operations Staff Officer with the Barbados Defence Force he participated in the American invasion of Grenada in 1983, an experience that led to his first book, Urgent Fury. Subsequent works of military history include Goose Green, on the Falklands War, and The Sharpe Companion. He lives in Bedford.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
SHORTLY BEFORE MIDDAY on 29 April 1815, artillerymen paraded on the walls of all the main fortresses in France. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap at twice the price 26 Aug 2007
Like me, you may well shop on Amazon on a budget, adding your target books to favourites and waiting for a copy with a torn cover to come up for 50p. In other words, you want value. If that's the case you would hardly look at this book - 30 new and around 25 Used and New. My friend, if you are interested in Waterloo BLOW THE BUDGET ON THIS BOOK. Use the `Search Inside' facility on the Amazon website - it gives you a good idea of the clarity of the writing, the superb quality of the maps and the use of boxes in the text (almost extended footnotes) to record topics that would slow the narrative but provide good background detail.
There is a lot of information here on the armies, their organisation (which didn't interest me very much) and their battle tactics (which is superb). In fact, the actual coverage of the 18th June itself probably only takes up about half the book, but given that the whole thing is over 400 pages, who cares!
The sections on the battle are illustrated with lots of great pictures of the battlefield today, taken on foot and giving you a feel for gradients, lines-of-sight, etc. Of course, the ground around the crossroads has altered a lot but combined with the superb detailed maps you can take this into account. The text is clear and considering the number of Waterloo books there are, the thinking is quite original. The sections addressing controversies (the "what ifs?" is fascinating because the author so clearly `knows his stuff'.
I paid 45 for this book when it came out, have read it several times cover to cover, and use it for reference. I love David Haworth's book on Waterloo and Barberro tells a more conventional chronological account but if the house was on fire and I could only rescue one Waterloo book, this would be it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waterloo 12 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's a very good history book but I would of liked more pictures illustrating the cavalry and artillery especially the big guns and limber teams. The text is accurate and the book is very informative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 8 Sep 2013
Difficult to fault this. The maps and illustrations are wonderful, the photography or modern sites is excellent and text is extensive and well informed. Pretty much the definitive book on Waterloo and as another reviewer has commented this would be good value at twice the price.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Impressively Comprehensive 14 July 2013
This is an impressively comprehensive volume and lavishly illustrated. It has two defects. There should be a glossary explaining, for instance, the meaning of chasseur and grenadier, and the index is very poor. Given that this is a reference work the index should be outstanding. Thus the four stars rather than five.
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