42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
This book is impressive and the final balance, Excellent, 1 Sept. 2006
In the last few years, excellent works have been published in Spain about the Peninsular War on both the regional and provincial levels as well as the local one. The last British or Anglo-Saxon contribution disseminated in Spain was by David Gates in 1987, very possibly inclined towards the military aspect. Gabriel Lovett's contribution was published in Spain in 1975. Tone, the most recent contributor, only deals with guerilla warfare.
In the case of the book by Charles Esdaile, it is not easy to write a study in which one tries to combine social, economic, political and military aspects in each chapter. It is even harder to summarize it. One cannot make everyone happy when summarizing. In a certain chapter, some description of a fact will be missing so it seems incomplete to us. In another chapter, we possibly will not like the interpretation of an event. It is not about that. On the contrary, the general framework of this book is impressive and the final balance can be described as Excellent. The reading of the book will make us realize that each chapter is a book in and of itself and prove that Charles Esdaile has written, in fact, 18 little books. This is the distinction, if it can be described as such, of Charles Esdaile's work. As it is a book of reference, its consultation will be obligatory. For that reason, if a book is recommended, its presence should not be missing from the collection of one interested in the Peninsular War. The reading of each chapter is an authentic exercise in actualization and the final bibliography makes the previous books obsolete.
It is possible that Peninsular War: A New History will displease a certain group of Spanish readers. The explanation is due to how the Peninsular War has been covered for many years, both in popular education and various history books. According to them, Spain won the war thanks to the guerrilla and the British army doesn't seem to play more than a secondary role. Esdaile's book changes these stereotypes and reduces the roles of the various myths, like the guerrilla, to the level at which they deserve. But this is not liked, and even less in demonstrating that this war made many negative aspects come to light for the Spanish. It is about assuming those things that are true and Esdaile demonstrates them, thanks to a very profound work, not only in the British archives, but also thanks to many years of work in the Spanish archives. Few historians can put together a comparative study of this level.
Jesús Maroto de las Heras