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Waterloo: Four Days that Changed Europe's Destiny Hardcover – 9 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (9 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408702487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408702482
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Magnificent and magisterial (Literary Review)

A quite brilliant piece of meticulous historical detective work . . . I have no doubt that this book will become a classic (Scotland on Sunday)

Clayton makes the fog of war central to the narrative; we are pitched into the chaos and din of Waterloo . . . We experience it as Wellington or Napoleon or an ordinary soldier would have done (Daily Telegraph)

Stirring . . . a fabulous story, superbly told (Max Hastings Sunday Times)

Tim Clayton not only gives a masterful account of the battle that changed the face of Europe but also sets it in its proper context . . . Clayton manages the difficult trick in military history of providing a blow-by-blow account without losing the flow of the narrative (Express)

An incisive analysis of how the battle unravelled and why (The Times)

Nuanced, broad, searching and elegant . . . the overall integrity of his scholarship is undeniable. The book may well become the most authoritative account of the four-day campaign (Spectator)

Tim Clayton's book is the best overview of the meeting of the three armies (Simon Heffer New Statesman)

Book Description

An epic page-turner about Waterloo, one of the greatest land battles in British history, rich in dramatic human detail and grounded in first class research.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Francis Edwards on 7 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This a superb, well researched history of this most important battle, using many new sources. The build and epilogue are engrossing. Above all it is beautifully written in clear prose. It is a real page turner. I read a third of it (it runs to 588 pages) on evening and the next night started to read it in bed and couldn't put it down until I had finished the book by 4.30am. If that isn't a recommendation what is!
If you are interested at all in this bloody battle that changed the course of European history. This should the version. The maps and photographs are extremely helpful so its best bought in hardback.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By PhilipT on 27 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of many books which are starting to come out to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Waterloo next year. Tim Clayton does an excellent job in setting out what happened in those four days leading to the decisive battle.
So many military history books are inherently confusing when they talk about this Corp or brigade advancing on that village or farmhouse. With the jumble of events it is difficult to remember which Corp has done what.
Tim Clayton achieves the impressive feat of being clear.
He also shows how much the role of luck is in deciding the outcome. The main battle was fought on 18 June 1815. Napoleon gained a major advantage over the allies on 15th/16th by attacking at the exact point where the British and Prussian armies were at their most vulnerable in terms of being separated from each other. On the 16th he had an opportunity to inflict a major defeat on the Prussians at Ligny but due to a catastrophic breakdown in communications between him and Marshall Ney the opportunity was lost. On the 17th Napoleon had an opportunity to attack an outnumbered force from Wellington's army but an another intelligence failure meant that the chance slipped away.
Having forced the Prussians to retreat at Ligny Napoleon sent Marshall Grouchy with 30,000 men to pursue the Prussians. But then Grouchy lost contact with the Prussians altogether. The Prussians had retreated north towards Brussels and not east towards Germany and the Prussian supply lines, because they were determined to retain the opportunity to link up with Wellington. Napoleon underestimated the determination of Wellington and Blucher, the Prussian commander to maintain contact with each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alan on 20 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow what a book. I could not put it down and I also bought the audio book of it -so I could read the chapters and hear them read.This really is a superb book as is the Audio book read by the excellent Philip Franks. I am going to Waterloo in December and I feel I am starting to know the place as it was in 1815 .This book is gripping, exciting and well worth reading. The description is what it would have been like and the character of the commanders comes through. You get the determination of Blucher, the heartbreak of Ney, the 'sang froid' of Napoleon and the coolness of Wellington. It was a bloodbath but there was also mercy as well.God for this and get lost in it. 'Quelle affaire'
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The impending 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo has seen a mini-burst of books coming out, of which Tim Clayton's has been one of the best in reviews so far. It certainly deserves those reviews and comes with the triple bonus of a good set of illustrations, maps that are (all too rarely for history books) pitched at the right level of detail to be useful without being confusing, and enough references to allow the reader to follow up any aspects of the story that really catches their attention.

Despite the subtitle, "Four days that changed Europe's destiny" the book gives only relatively brief attention to the wider context of the battle, and in doing so assumes that it was necessarily important - as opposed to the counter-argument that given the relative strengths of France and the alliance Napoleon faced, he was bound to lose the campaign of 1815 even if he had won the first major battle. It's a shame that Clayton didn't explore this question in more detail given how skillfully he handles many other debates over the battle, such as the relative credit which is due to Wellington and to Blucher.

It's not only those debates he handles skillfully for the narrative of the two days of battle at the heart of the book is brilliant, weaving in detailed personal accounts with a broader explanation of which troops were headed where and with what significance.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 Sep 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Cent Jours electrified Europe. Within three weeks of landing at Antibes on 1 March, Napoleon had forced Louis XV111 to flee, defeated the Prussians at Ligny and fought the battle of Waterloo. Yet Talleyrand described Napoleon's,death some years later on St Helena as : 'only a news item'.

There are numerous books on the Battle of Waterloo. At least 5 more are due out before Xmas.1815 is, of course,the bicentenary of the battle.This account is solid without adding anything new, how could it? Tim Clayton has written several books on military matters such as Trafalgar, and a book on Diana.

In some 77 chapters he covers all the major phases of the battle. The Epilogue is very good. The bibliography is sound although several key French sources are missing. I have tested the index, it seems accurate. The author's inclusion of a brief account of the historical, military and cultural background to the battle is most welcome. It will be very useful for those readers who lack this knowledge. Such information is crucial for an understanding of this and any military campaign.

No single battle has received more attention, or evoked greater public interest and recognition, than Waterloo. Only Zama (202 B.C.) has proved of equal importance, only Gettysburg has been written about as often. Why is this?

It is probably the result of several factors: it was 'decisive', it involved military giants, it marks the end of an era of European history, it led to the eclipse of France as a military power, and it led to an attempt through the Congress System for a way to avoid war as a means of settling international squabbles. Astonishingly, these outcomes were the fall-out of only 4 days-15 to 18 June, 1815.
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