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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; 1st Edition edition (11 Sept. 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 (612 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,031 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

‘A gripping “fife and drum” account […] beautifully produced.’ Country Life

Praise for Bernard Cornwell’s previous titles:

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

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

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

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David M Rees on 12 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover
I have been fascinated by this crucial battle since I was twelve years of age and have thirty two books on the battle. I really enjoyed this; Cornwell is a wonderful narrator and applies his skills as a storyteller to a complex series of encounters during the '100 days' that bring the conflict to life, hint at the great 'what ifs' of the encounter, and are full of little details that I have enjoyed discovering for the first time. It is true that this is not the account of a military historian, and will not necessarily satisfy students looking for detail of the actions at Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo, but it is a worthy edition to the library of books on this subject, and brings the Battle(s) to life in a way that a military historian will struggle to achieve. I thought it was great value at £25 - it is beautifully produced, and printed; at £5 it is an absolute steal. If you want one book to understand the struggle, buy it. You will not be disappointed.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. H. Konarzewski on 4 May 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
The basic facts about the Battle of Waterloo are not contentious: it was fought on Sunday 18th June, in Belgium, about 9 miles south of Brussels. A British army led by the Duke of Wellington joined forces with a Prussian army led by General von Blucher and defeated a French army led by Napoleon. Out of a total of nearly 200,000 combatants on all sides, nearly 50,000 died on the field.
There are already numerous books available on the subject, and no doubt, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle, there will be plenty more. So why write another book on the subject? If one leaves aside commercial factors, the answer is that `every man's account will be different' - those are the words of the Duke of Wellington.
So why read this version of the battle by Bernard Cornwell?
One good reason is that this book also deals with the frequently overlooked battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny that occurred in the 3 days before Waterloo, and in which the French inflicted heavy losses on the British and the Prussians: a reminder that Napoleon and his army were formidable opponents.
Another good reason is that - as one would expect from a book by Bernard Cornwell - the book is highly readable and entertaining. Cornwell is seldom content to mention a key player without mentioning an anecdote that reveals something of their personality. Some anecdotes are hilarious - including one about a British officer who fooled a French general into believing he was an American officer (despite wearing a British uniform) and hitched a ride in his carriage. The book contains fascinating personal information about Wellington and Napoleon, and many others. Some years after Waterloo, Wellington met some former French officers who rudely turned their backs on him at a social function.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Philip D. Davis on 19 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over many years I have read many accounts of the Battle of Waterloo, some primary source letters from Private Wheeler, Rifleman Harris and of course Captain Kincaid and some from military buffs that seem to have devoted their lives to the study of this battle, but I have to declare that this is the most enjoyable. Even better than David Howarth's "A Near Run Thing"!

It has just the right amount of detail to add authenticity yet balanced with the human perspective to bring the obvious exhilaration, fear and misery of the conflict. There are shelves of dry books out there to give you the military detail if that's what you desire but for general all round entertainment based upon sound factual occurrences I would advise you read this one. (but also Howarth's!)
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By chris laxton on 26 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many non-fiction historical books, but not one on Waterloo and hence I am no expert and in no position to comment on the historical accuracy of this book. However, I found the book a ripping good read and it has made me want to read more on the battle and individuals involved, which cannot be a bad thing.

From reading the reviews, it would seem if you're an expert on Waterloo avoid this book, if you're not and want an intro to the battle(s), I thoroughly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By W Greenhalf on 5 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Bernard Cornwell is a writer of enjoyable romances set against a historical backdrop. His books are generally well written but what sets him apart from the majority of writers of bodice ripping fiction is the blend of credible history with fantasy heroes and heroines. It has never been clear to me if these books were greater or less than the individual parts. The main appeal of Waterloo was that it gave me a chance to see Cornwell's skills as a writer of history without the fantasy.

What I got was a fascinating glimpse of how a writer can study an event in search of characters and incidents around which to build a story. What is apparent is that 'trivial' factual details are unimportant when compared to personalities. The number of companies in a French Infantry battalion, for example, is of no interest (it was 6 and not 8). A little more disturbing is that I believe that Picton was in command of the 5th Infantry Division while Rowland Hill commanded the 2nd Corps (not Picton as Cornwell would have us believe). These minor inconsistencies at first irritated the geek in me, but as I read on it became clear that what I was reading was not a cold history but rather a sketch from which characters like Picton could develop from mere humans into the stuff of historical fiction. For Picton his best features were brought into heroic relief - for others like the unfortunate Slender Billy (the Prince of Orange) failings were accentuated until an all too credible buffoon appeared.

Once you realize that this is about characters and not details then it becomes a much more enjoyable read. As with Cornwell's fiction there is much to learn from this 'history'. It has been produced with great love and is full of vibrant colour.
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