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Waterloo: New Perspectives - The Great Battle Reappraised [Hardcover]

David Hamilton-Williams
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Caxton Editions (1 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860199968
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860199967
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.4 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 698,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Synopsis

Arguing that much of the accepted knowledge of the Battle of Waterloo is corrupted and one-sided, this book re-examines the entire collection of the letters of Captain William Siborne, whose model of the battle has been highly influential'

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've had this book for several years, but had been rather put off by some of the almost hysterical reviews I have seen. I finally got around to reading it, and am very pleasantly surprised. As a piece of popular history, it is written vigorously and skilfully, although Mr Hamilton-Williams (or whatever his real name is) has a tendency to express himself in rather extreme terms. This is entertaining, once you get the hang of it, but maybe doesn't imbue some of his more unusual theories with the sort of scholarly dignity which would help him to be taken seriously.

I'm a keen amateur student of military history - I would not claim to be an expert on Waterloo, but I have read pretty widely on the period, and I know enough to able to take the book on its merits. And it certainly has merits - from a positive aspect, this is well put together and stimulating, and it is invaluable as a challenge to some of the patriotic and time-honoured distortions which are built into our received understanding of these events. If anything gets you thinking, gets you to question an accepted standpoint, then it is potentially useful. On the negative side, some of the ideas are a little on the wild side, and (as mentioned elsewhere) the sources are questionable, and sometimes incestuous (the first chapter, almost exclusively, quotes Mr H-W's other book on the period as a reference, without further detail). The author is at times fatiguingly partial - his world is clearly full of good guys and bad guys, though no more so than some of the reviewers visible here.

But it's great stuff - it hangs together well, it certainly drew my attention to a lot of things I hadn't seen or thought about before, and is generally a breath of fresh air.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and enjoyable read. 13 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Hard to put down, an excellent and honest account of the lead up to and the battle of Waterloo. This book is written to appeal to someone familiar with the history, or to someone who is interested in finding out!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Perpective on Old Perceptions? 23 Jan 2008
By tygris
Format:Hardcover
There cannot be another battle in history which has given rise to so many books.

Whilst there is some argument over the content, and the reversal of many of the previously accepted theories as to the events on the battlefield, there can be few other books on the subject that have a greater number of named sources of information.

The Siborne model is examined and discarded as flawed with well placed arguments and references to sources from all over Europe, not just the UK, and some of the French references were certainly at odds with Allied records, exactly as one would expect for different viewpoints.

Worth buying for the list of references and sources alone and certainly deserving of a place in any required reading material on the Great Battle.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshingly honest appraisal 13 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A new look at Waterloo without the usual jaundiced boring jingoistic view of the battle also it destroys the myth of some not all of the ill informed writers that Wellington was an infaliable military tactician likewise Napoleon. An excellent informative read the battle described in away that leads the reader to smell the spent gunpowder and her the screams and shouts of the injured. It also puts paid to the claims that Sidbourne got it right. What a book what a read what an author.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Perspectives Indeed - An Invaluable Account of Waterloo 25 Dec 2003
By Michael L Peirce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having read everything I can on the Waterloo battle I still find this book to be absolutely essential. I've read the critics who fault the author on many levels but I must say that he answers several questions that literally no other author has thus far addressed.
1) Why did Picton die crying, "Rally the Highlanders?" Were not the British lines indestructable?
2) How did a few companies of British Guards hold Hougamont against most of a French corps? After all, didn't the German and Nassau troops flee in terror? (see Jac Weller et al)
3) Why did the French Army fall apart and flee for their lives when the Middle Guard was repulsed, yet most could not see farther than twenty feet on the smoke filled battle field? Could it have had something to do with Ziethen's advance, ignored even in the otherwise excellent 'Waterloo Companion'?
4) Did Napoleon really lie about Grouchy's arrival - or did the attack by the Prussians on the Nassau forces on Wellington's left make him think Grouchy truly had arrived?
Until at least one other author addresses these questions I submit that Hamilton Williams is the man to read. Not to mention the fact that his commentary reads like an adventure story and his account of the battle is quite simply the best so far written by anyone.
The attacks on H-W by Peter Hofshroyer should also be taken with a large grain of salt. I was shocked by that until I realized htat H-W stole a march on him by getting to print first with what was certainly the first English language account of the battle to give proper credit to the Dutch Belgians, Prussians and various Germans.
This book belongs in any serious military history collection and truly does offer a "new perspective".
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authors Comment 10 April 2008
By D. C. Hamilton-williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am the author. I wish to answer the sustained attacks on my books over the last fifteen years by Micheal Le Vean et als. This man and his friends have spent years attacking my books and defaming me, they do so because I would not take part in and opposed their undemocratic coup d'etat to oust Robert Snibbe as president of the Napoleonic Society of America in 1994. Le Vean evens quotes the late Col. Elting to discredit me putting words into his mouth, which cannot now be disputed. Their friend and colleague Peter Hofshroer and his `partner' David Hollins also try to denigrate my work, in Hofshroer's case my book came out first and stole his thunder vis a vis the Prussians , Dutch-Belgian and Germans true role in the Campaign.I have been severely disabled for the last thirty years due to a spinal injury and now a severe heart and lung condition from being housebound and it's been too traumatic for me to counter their lies until now. I cannot, however, continue to accept this venomous spite from these persons without answering them as it's embarrassing to my family. Many people have faulted my sources, (quite rightly) and I have been too unwell to answer but I do so now.
I was approached by Arms and Armour press in 1991 on the recommendation of two historians that I had corresponded with for many years. I was commissioned to write a book about the fall of Napoleon and Waterloo. This I did. However, in 1993, seven weeks before my manuscript was due to be handed in, I had a panicked editor on my doorstep who said that he needed a book on Waterloo and to scrap "the politics"! Being a first time author I was coerced in to starting my manuscript again from scratch, either that or they said they would not publish it. In six weeks I wrote New Perspectives from start to finish, culling it from the original work; Writing, assembling photographs and maps and proof reading this "new work in just six weeks was huge undertaking and one I have never been happy with. It meant that many of my citations were either copied wrongly or numbered incorrectly. I was not even allowed a bibliography on the grounds of cost so I tried to cite as many works in the footnotes as possible. The bibliography appeared in my other book "The Fall of Napoleon" published a few weeks later. This was the first part of my original book, the second part (unpublished) was the machinations leading to Napoleon's return from Elba and King Murat's campaign against Austria in 1815; Waterloo and St.Helena (unpublished) being the last part. Thirty years work cut up and badly produced. Such is the power of the publisher. I also cringed at what the PR said on the jacket, but there again I had no say. Having been disabled for over three decades, I have spent my enforced isolation in researching Napoleonic archives(cited in "The Fall of Napoleon") and obtaining international accounts of the period, mainly by correspondence. Due to my injuries, I have been able to devote all my time to studying rather than being a `part-time' author/researcher with a full-time occupation. After a most vitriolic personal attack by the above named critics, I suffered a severe heart attack in 1994 and withdrew from writing anymore books as I am not well enough to fight back against such personal vindictiveness that follows a publication and the game did not seem to be worth the candle. I also did not feel like answering their personal libels and slanders as to my private life as this is an old trick to make me look guilty by having perpetually to justify myself and therefore look at fault by doing so. Finally, as to my veracity, I was made a Fellow of the International Napoleon Society in 1996 and I was awarded its highest award The Legion of Merit in 2001, for my lifetime services to Napoleonic history. If anyone is in doubt as to the veracity of this, they need only contact the INS or go to their website [...] May I take this opportunity to thank all those readers who have judged my books on their merit and have not been swayed by all the venom generated against me.
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Justly Discredited or mere character assassination? 12 Mar 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I purchased this book precisely because it is one one of the few volumes still in print with anything close to full coverage of the Waterloo campaign, and with more or less the least amount of identity politics. Despite all the author's plugging of his own books-to-come and his claims, which are a good deal too much for the dust jacket and all, the book collapses on simply being a reasonably accurate accurate account of (mostly) the battles of Quatre-Bras and Waterloo (among the French, British, and Dutch/German/Belgian allies). There simply isn't anything terribly new or controversial in his book and I disagree with Peter Hofschroer's remark about its content being thrown in doubt, all other issues with him notwithstanding. The content is still too derivative, too close to previous works and experience (the Siborne, for example) for that to be the case.
The interested reader is challenged to find another volume with the same amount of coverage of the Battle of Quatre-Bras, for example. The author, it appears in parts of the book, does not attempt as much coverage of those areas with which were not evidently well researched (The Prussian contibution, perhaps thus some of Mr Hofschroer's vitriolics). The author does indeed venture to make make his opinions and interpretations, some of which the reader has to take with a grain of salt, but that is his authorial prerogative. We see that Mr Hofschroer clearly enjoys his privilege as well. The author's account is, overall and despite the criticism, surprisingly balanced. The writing is usually good and entertaining. Hamilton-Williams account is by no means a "fiction." I still find his attempts a good deal more useful in guiding me a little closer to the truth than the massive omissions so common in other volumes still in print which purport to cover the Waterloo campaign.
Personally I am tired of hearing all the petty squabbling among historians, amateur and some (huh-hum) professional, over who really won Waterloo, and worse yet the endless bickering among pedantic source hunters. When the reader who has access to enough of the excellent volumes and materials on the subject becomes fairly expert enough, he or she can cross check the common stories, narratives, or sources of quotes, most often without having to be a source hunter. There is criticism, even polemics, and then there is character assassination. I have yet to find a reasonable published account which proves D. H-W deliberately falsified his written account anywhere of the Waterloo campaign. I will wait to hear the author defend himself first before I pass judgement.
Moreover, take with more than just a grain of salt the many unprofessional reviews made by one "Michael La Vean" on this and David Hamilton-Williams other page. They smack of cheap personal vendetta and not anything resembling reasonable criticism. One wonders if they were to research Mr La Vean's own claims (if that is his real name) as to his identity and credentials what would turn up, if anything. I do not believe that a fellow of the International Napoleonic society would engage in ceaseless juvenile ranting as he has done on this site, making such serious and unsupported claims of his own. Furthermore, his methods are of such a common variety internet persona that he almost seems as if to materialize again and again in the guise of a reader from West Point, or from Moscow, London, Brussels, or who knows what other place names with any relevence to matters of Napoleonic military history.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scholarly and Catholic Work 21 Mar 2002
By Miles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Hamilton Williams analyzes the entire hundred days campaign in a catholic and imperious manner. What is most striking about his work are the many levels at which it can be read. At the most rudimentary level, the book provides an elegantly written and clearly presented account of the factual events of the hundred days campaign.

Woven in to this factual narrative are nuggets of analysis. Mr. Hamilton-Williams draws unorthodox yet reasonable conclusions about the hundred days campaign. One of the more controversial arguments the book posits suggests that Waterloo was lost due to the incompetence of Napoleon Bonaparte's subordenates, and not the failures of Napoleon himself. And this suggestion does not lack merit. When he returned from Elba, Napoleon was faced with grave disadvantages; some self wrought and others unavoidable. Most dicisive (argues Hamilton-Williams) was the loss of Marshal Berthier, Bonaparte's long time (nearly 20 year's) Chief of Staff. Without Berthier's gift of clear translation of the often garbled and confusing verbal orders of Bonaparte, the cogs of the French military machine began to fall apart, and grave miscommunications occured, miscommunications that led to the downfall of Bonaparte at Waterloo. The other disadvantage worthy of recap was the loss of Marshal Murat, Bonaparte's brilliant cavalry captain. It was his absence, an absence caused by Bonaparte, that resulted in the dismal failure of Marshal Ney's cavalry charge at Waterloo, and the consequent failure of Napoleon Bonaparte at that battle. All of this is fully and more elegantly explained in Mr. Hamiliton-Williams penetrating and scholarly work.

In short, Mr. Hamilton-Williams has provided in <I>Waterloo: New Perspectives</I> an historical gem, that should be read by all scholars of the Napoleonic era.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarship sheds light on what we thought was true. 2 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"History is written by the winners." Or so it is thought. The winner of the Battle of Waterloo is supposed to be the British under the Duke of Wellington. Due to a common language, their version of history has been prevelant in the US. David Hamilton-Williams' scholarship gives us a view that the "winners" have left out. Why? Because with the light of truth, it does not let them be seen in the best light. This book helps to give credit where it is due. Meaning the Dutch & Belgian allies of the British and Prussia. It also exposes the highly biased version that the "winners" have perpetrated.
I am shocked to find this book in the bargain section of amazon's web-site. If this is were you found it, then you've found a gem at a great price! Buy it! I highly recommend all of the books by this author.
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