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Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles Paperback – 7 May 2015


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (7 May 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007539401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007539406
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.

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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
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. J. Hall on 31 Dec. 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Battle of Waterloo has fascinated me for many years, especially as family legend states that an ancestor fought there with the Dragoons. I hope to find out in 2015 whether there is truth in the legend!
This book doesn't pull any punches, virtually from page one it gives a detailed and very graphic account of the days leading up to the battle and then the main battle itself. As Cornwell himself admits, nobody really knows all the details of the battle due to the smoke and confusion on the day and varius different accounts exist. However, this is a fabulous book and I found it very difficult to put down as the story of the battle was so compelling with fortunes changing almost minute by minute for each side.
There are numerous anecdotes from those who took part in the battle, many are very graphic and show just how horrific and gruesome a day it must have been.
I am no expert on this battle and some reviews say this book contains mistakes, but I found it extremely interesting and well written. I would have liked the maps of the battlefield to have been more detailed and a little larger, but overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this famous and utterly brutal battle.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jeremy marshall on 12 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover
There are hundreds of books on Waterloo and no doubt many more to be added in the run up to June 2105. There is story - which if it is not true should be - of President Charles de Gaulle being invited to the 150th anniversary in 1965 and declining on the grounds that he was too busy preparing for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. This book by the well known author Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe etc) is not a work of academic history and if you read the various reviews on Amazon you will see criticism about a number of minor errors, mistaken French translations, complaints about the switching of tenses from past to present and other minor cavills. Ignore these quibbles. What you have is not a work of academic history but a gripping story. There is extensive use of eyewitness accounts to convey what it would have been like to have fought there. Some of the best known scenes such as the hand to hand fighting at Hougoumont and the ball in Brussels before the battle are brought to life with the vivid eye of a skilled novelist. At its centre are the two protagonists. Napoleon - I am just starting Andrew Roberts book "Napoleon the Great" - and The Iron Duke (so called not because of his military prowess but for fitting iron mesh over the windows of his London house to protect them from the mob). Napoleon was clearly a shadow of his former self, ill, distracted, lacking his usual chief of staff who had fallen to his death from a German castle window a few months before Waterloo while admiring Russian Cossacks. His orders were in particular highly confusing and resulted in 30,000 men under Grouchy being sent on a wild goose chase, failing to block the Prussians who arrived to win the day. on the other hand Wellington was everywhere, commanding and inspiring his men, rallying the stragglers and the timid. So while there may well be other books more suitable for a military historian it will be hard to beat this excellent and highly readable history.
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12 of 13 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Canon on 20 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent read. Some academic history books can be hard work but this book is easy to read. While there was probably few new revelations about the events of the fours days, I personally gained a much better understanding how the different battles, affected each other and how poor decisions and the weather greatly affected the outcome. Bernard Cornwall does indicate that the events would be viewed differently in the different countries but other works have indicated that many promulgated the Napoleon legend long after the events which has obscured the real facts. The book particularly brings out that the overall outcome was a "close run thing" not once but several times over the four days. I have read every book written by Bernard Cornwell and enjoyed them all.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John on 9 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disappointing. The book gives an appearance of being rushed into print to meet the 200th anniversary. From silly errors which should have been proofread out (not knowing east from west) to having a different view as to the cause of the French big cavalry charge to the other four books I have read on this battle and to a very disconcerting frequent change from the past to present tenses and back again, presumably in an effort to make it more "pacey", this is easily the worst Cornwell book I have read.
Sorry, Mr Cornwell, but stick to fiction in a real setting like the Arthur trilogy and Agincourt, both of which are superb.
If you want a good book on Waterloo, buy Tim Clayton's book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DJW13 on 27 Feb. 2015
Format: Hardcover
I do not normally read non-fiction at all, so was not sure how to approach this book. I knew I would read it, as I have read and enjoyed all of Bernard Cornwell's previous books. I need not have worried that I would find this too dry, as the author has put his own take on the story of the battles. I kept expecting Sharpe to appear (because he was there in Sharpe's Waterloo) - of course he didn't, because he is a fictional character. I enjoyed the quotes from various people who were actually there, especially the ones who survived.

I note that there have been some poor reviews, complaining that some facts have been rehashed and that some facts are wrong. I didn't know that someone writing about an historical event should only write if he has found out something new about the event - a batch of lost papers from somewhere perhaps? Every historian will have a different take on the events being described, especially on Waterloo where there are so many accounts of what happened with so many different points of view.

I may one day read one of the many books referred to by the author - he certainly doesn't claim to have written the definitive guide to the story, but I suspect he has written one that will be read by many people. I note that today Amazon has it as the best-selling book on Maritime Archaeology!!!
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