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Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles Hardcover – 11 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (11 Sep 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000753938X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007539383
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord trilogy, the Grail Quest series and the Alfred series.

Product Description

Review

Praise for Waterloo:

‘[…] An account that is both vivid and scholarly. Readers new to the Waterloo campaign could hope for no better introduction, and veterans will find fresh insights.’ Independent

‘Cornwell is excellent on the minutiae of tactics […] he offers narrative clarity, and a sure grip on personalities and period.’ Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

‘An excellent first foray into non-fiction, and proof that good narrative history is no different from fiction – it’s all about the story.’ Evening Standard

Praise for Bernard Cornwell’s previous titles:

‘Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.’ Observer

‘The best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present. Cornwell really makes history come alive.’ George R.R. Martin

About the Author

Bernard Cornwell was born in London, raised in Essex, and now lives mainly in the USA with his wife. In addition to the hugely successful Sharpe novels, Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Starbuck Chronicles, the Warlord series, the Grail Quest and the Alfred series and standalone battle books Azincourt and The Fort.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 86 people found the following review helpful By SwissScot on 8 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover
Seldom do I give up on a book, and as readers of this review will see, even more infrequently do I decide to write and post a book review on Amazon (and rest assured I will also post this review on a number of highly influential history forums). But the inflated reception to this publication has left me with little alternative.

I should really have known better when examining the title: `Waterloo - The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles'. Yes, engagements did take place over four days and there were three armies in the Low Countries, but there were actually four battles, fought as dual-actions. Nonetheless, upon purchasing the book I was pleased with the overall presentation, and the fact that the images inside were in colour (although several of these are mislabelled, and a number were clearly taken from low resolution online sources). Unfortunately, these two elements proved to be the major positives in an otherwise hugely disappointing production.

Now, perhaps I should clarify that I have more than a passing interest in Waterloo, as I have studied the campaign in great detail for many years. So when a fellow author states that their work is a `history' I expect them to have undertaken a reasonable level of research. But what we find with Mr. Cornwell's work is that it is littered with the most basic errors. Indeed, there are so many it is almost impossible to list them here. The style of narration is not to my liking, as use of the present tense is clearly unsuitable. (However, I fully appreciate that those who watch American made history documentaries may well find it acceptable.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dave on 30 Oct 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let met start off by saying that I'm a fan of Bernard Cornwell's novels. On the whole, they're great escapism and I can enjoy a little bit of history and a bit of action without overly worrying about historical accuracy. They generally go along at a decent clip and are good fun.

So given his obvious interest in the period, I had high hopes for this book. I was disappointed.

It really brings nothing new to the battle, except confirming Cornwell's dislike of "Slender Billy", who is unique in the cast of characters for seemingly always being referred to by a (derogatory) nickname. It would seem to be only fair to have referred to Wellington as "the sepoy general" or "nosey" and Napoleon as "the little corporal" if nicknames were going to be the order of the day.

As have been pointed out in other reviews, there are errors of fact, but I'm fairly certain that if you wanted an academically rigorous account of the battle, you wouldn't be using this book anyway.

It's a personal thing, but I disliked Cornwell's switching between present and past tense when describing aspects of the battles. I suppose that he did this to add drama, but I found it disconcerting instead. I'd put it down to poor editing before I realised that it was intentional. Then it just annoyed me.

At the end of the day, it boils down to this: if you've read about the battle before, whether in Longford's "Years of the Sword", Weller's "Wellington at Waterloo" or the brilliant Barbero's "The Battle: A New History of Waterloo" then the only thing that waits for you in Cornwell's book is disappointment.

And if you want to learn about the battle then any of the three books above (and there are others as well) would be a much better purchase than this.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful By N Simner on 28 Sep 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015 it is perhaps unsurprising that a plethora of new books on the battle have appeared in bookshops towards the end of 2014, with many more due for release early in the New Year. You might, faced with so many to choose from, feel lost or confused as to which ones would be best to read. So when one hears that Bernard Cornwell, the author of the incredibly successful Sharpe series, has written such a book it is understandable that much excitement follows. However, it is with great sadness that, after reading his new work, the author of this review must inform his readers that Cornwell's Waterloo book is one to avoid!

The book is littered with inaccuracies, and while many aspects of history are debatable there are also many undisputed facts, that no one with a serious interest in the battle will find it of value. For example, Cornwell refers to Comte d'Erlon as a Marshal of France, he wasn't; he refers to the Colonel of the 52nd Light Infantry as `Colville' when it is in fact `Colborne'; he states French infantry battalions were made up of eight companies, they had six; and some of the translation from the original French are badly done. He persistently refers to the Duke of Orange as `Slender Billy', which although was the derogatory nickname given to him by the British troops at the time, leads the reader to believe the author is overly bias in his account, rather than the objective historian he should be.

Admittedly the first couple of chapters do get the reader hooked, but if you are someone with prior knowledge of the battle you will soon encounter the mistakes mentioned above, and many more!
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