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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wellington made easy
This book definately deserves 5 stars in my opinion, but only if we take it for what it is; a good general history of the man and his life.
A comparison in thickness with Elizabeth Longford's two volume classic clearly indicates that Holmes' book can't be exhaustive, but this is in no way a criticism in itself. In fact I would say that it is one of...
Published on 12 Jan. 2006

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wellington: with brief battles.
A good Biography but abbreviated in strange places for Richard Holmes.
The details of Wellington's personal, political and army life as well as the campaigns are well covered, but I found the writing tone a little pompous (perhaps allowable for the Duke?). His Stoic character combined with his reluctance to accept advice and on occasions even to listen to evidence...
Published 17 months ago by Tysonbob


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wellington made easy, 12 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
This book definately deserves 5 stars in my opinion, but only if we take it for what it is; a good general history of the man and his life.
A comparison in thickness with Elizabeth Longford's two volume classic clearly indicates that Holmes' book can't be exhaustive, but this is in no way a criticism in itself. In fact I would say that it is one of the book's strongest points. Wellington, the Iron Duke is extremely readable, almost addictive in the way only a great novel can be, but without recourse to dumbing down. Holmes manages to recount the Duke's life and deeds both on and off the battle field with enough detail to inform, yet without becoming boring or pedantic. Here we see not only the Iron willed disciplinarian but also the man who cried when he saw the slaughter of Badajoz. He also endevors to give a more balanced assessment of the context in which Wellington lived and fought in battle and in parliament than has often been done (particulary with reference to the peninsula) and allows us to see how Wellington's experiences and background helped to shape his world view.
In short Richard Holmes seems to be that rare animal: an academic who can really write and communicate with readers. Wellington, The Iron Duke may not be adequate for hisorical researchers, but it's certainly an excellent and informative read for the rest of us with an interest in the man and his world.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great book about a Great Man, 16 Mar. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
Richard Holmes should be applauded for this fantastic biography of Wellington.
He manages to expertly combine Wellington's military and personal history, with a pace that never slackens and holds the reader's attention throughout. With so many battles to describe Holmes could easily have bored or confused me, but he did not, and actually gave me a new interest in them. Holmes provides a balanced portrait of Wellington, describing both his talents and his faults. Holmes also provides beautifully written portraits of Wellington's peers, such as Richard Wellesley (Wellington's brother),and his wife, Kitty.
Wellington: The Iron Duke is an excellent companion to the television series of the same name, as it can go deeper into the events of Wellington's life than the three hour series.
Unfortunately, like Wellington himself, this book has some faults. With so much to describe, it cannot go into as much detail as I would have hoped for. But as a book to gain the reader's interest in a subject, and as a precursor to wider reading around it, I don't think that I shall ever see its equal.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but could have been better, 30 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
Although I finished this book with more knowledge on Wellington than I had at the start, I felt the book dwelt too much on detailed descriptions of military encounters, rather than giving me an insight into the man himself. Whilst I accept that his battle field encounters did much to shape his character, there is just too little about his domestic life, the relationship he had with wife and children, the reasoning behind his marriage and its failure, and his subsequent life in retirement.

Whilst accepting and understanding that Richard Holmes is a brilliant military historian, and this is his sphere of knowledge, a bit more was needed on non military matters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wellington: with brief battles., 25 Sept. 2013
A good Biography but abbreviated in strange places for Richard Holmes.
The details of Wellington's personal, political and army life as well as the campaigns are well covered, but I found the writing tone a little pompous (perhaps allowable for the Duke?). His Stoic character combined with his reluctance to accept advice and on occasions even to listen to evidence was well brought out. Unfortunately apart from the battle of Waterloo which was reasonably dealt with, the coverage of his battles, in India and the Iberian penninsula, were far too brief. This was not helped by the maps (paperback UK version) being very small and situated quite a way from the text. Also many of the battle descriptions were 'enhanced' by odd exhortations (may be real or legendary)of leaders or troops. For example: in the battle of Vitoria, only about 650 words for the battle and its effect,one of his commanders Picton is quoted 'Come on ye rascals! Come on ye fighting villains!' for no apparent reason. Perhaps it is supposed to generate atmosphere but no attempt is made to link it to the troops behaviour.

I enjoyed the book but felt it should have been 50-100 pages longer to better cover the battles .
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non qualified historian, 7 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
A brilliant book. Made me look forward to getting on the commuter trains from London Bridge and Paddington so I could read the next few chapters. if that comes out has been a popularist then good because i didn't see any of the TV programmes but enjoyed the book!
One really minor criticism, which is probably very pedantic, is that many dates are quoted as day and month without the year. So I had to refer back to know which year we were talking about.
Other than that the simply conclusion is buy and read it if you have any interest in Wellington and his period.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wellington, 17 July 2002
By A Customer
First and foremost, i think this is a really good book. It ties in with the material covered in the three television programs and expands on the details which have been presented on the small screen. It reminds me of Simon Schama's books of his series "A History of Britain" and, as reading this for my own interest not for research purposes, i think it has been worth my while. In my opinion, it gives just about the right amount of coverage to each stage in Wellington's career thereby avoiding making him seem like a "one hit wonder" in the Battle of Waterloo.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Boots please, 13 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
I finally got around to reading this ..many years after I bought it. Holmes is an interesting writer though this book, which I now know was a TV tie-in is at the same time both accessible and a little light. Holmes is a military historian , not an area I am well versed in. It is crucial to Wellingtons story and Holmes makes it readable. Wellington the man is harder to grasp and the oddity of him marrying someone he hadn't seen for years..only to be disappointed doesn't stand him out as a tactical or strategic genius. There only a short chapter on Wellington the politician, the aspect I was really interested in, and no mention at all of the boots. Reading a book about Wellington without the boots is like Laurel without Hardy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wellington: The iron Duke., 11 Jan. 2014
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Richard Holmes has always been one of my favourite historians. His research has always been meticulous, and it is a great pity that he has died as his books should be required reading for those with an interest in history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The silver spooned general, 31 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Wellington: The Iron Duke (Paperback)
This is a readable book. It is an entertaining excursion through Wellington's life. His title was actually chosen by his brother and he had no close relationship with the town.
What I missed was some explanation of his military talent. Prior to India his military experience was brief, and he owed a great deal to nepotism. Yes ,he had talent and luck and seems to have been a decent man, but how did his military knowledge develop?
This book is something of a light, coffee table affair-enjoyable but shallow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Read, 9 April 2014
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If you think you know Wellington you don't, unless you read this masterpiece by Richard Holmes. With his eye for ground, understanding of the importance of logistics, ability to think as the enemy - and of course the odd slice of good fortune - the Duke would be able to command a 21st Century army, with or without a stint at Sandhurst.
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Wellington: The Iron Duke
Wellington: The Iron Duke by Richard Holmes (Paperback - 3 Feb. 2003)
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