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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Account of this Famous Battle
I have just finished read Gordon Corrigan’s latest military history book; “Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies”. I don’t think anything much ‘new’ can be said about this battle, however Gordon Corrigan’s account does make much of what has been written before appear fresh and interesting. The author, a retired...
Published 11 months ago by Aussie Reader

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not really any new insights
Published 4 months ago by chrisfrance


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Account of this Famous Battle, 10 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
I have just finished read Gordon Corrigan’s latest military history book; “Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies”. I don’t think anything much ‘new’ can be said about this battle, however Gordon Corrigan’s account does make much of what has been written before appear fresh and interesting. The author, a retired British Army officer, brings a slightly different perspective to this famous battle and his style of writing is very engaging and without any national bias although he does like to tweak a nose or two in the narrative or in his footnotes. Like this account taken from the Introduction in regards to the 150th anniversary of Waterloo held in 1965:

"In 1965 the Allies of 1815 were invited and contingents from Austria, West Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain and Portugal were on parade, as were the Russians, despite this being the height of the Cold War. As the occasion was officially, if not in reality, a commemoration rather than a celebration, the French too were invited. Not unnaturally they declined to attend, and the story doing the rounds was that their president, the Anglophobic General de Gaulle, had refused on the grounds that he was too busy preparing for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings the following year."

The author provides a very easy to read general overview of the Napoleonic wars and the events and people involved in the lead up to this climatic battle. I have read much of this before but I still enjoyed the details provided by the author and leant something new along the way in regards to the uniform of the Portuguese Cacadores: "For a long time this author assumed that the brown was a deliberate attempt at camouflage uniform, pre-dating khaki by nearly a century, until meeting the direct descendant of the officer who raised the first battalion of Cacadores, who explained that the only way his ancestor could obtain enough cloth to make identical uniforms for 600 men was to go into a monastery and requisition the monk's habits."

The author provides short but interesting biographies on all the major players from all the armies involved and some great details on the officers and men of those armies. For example, this account in relation to British colour sergeants: "The rank of colour sergeant was instituted in 1813, and he was the equivalent of today's company sergeant major and company quartermaster sergeant rolled into one. Although colour sergeants supposedly acted as escorts to the colours in battle, this task was more usually delegated to sergeants who had annoyed the sergeant major, as it was one of the more dangerous positions to hold in action."

I found the author to be very fair in his assessment of Napoleon, Wellington and Blucher and provides a soldiers view of what he believes occurred on the battlefield, using his military experience, his research of the numerous accounts available and what he picked up from walking the battlefield itself. I found a distinct lack of any national bias in his writing which was very refreshing.

There are ten general maps of Europe, France and the battlefield, all easy to follow and all placed within the book in the appropriate areas. There are two sections of colour plates within the book, mostly lovely paintings of the period and a few photographs of pivotal locations on the battlefield as they are today.

Overall this was a great story, easy to read and one that I would recommend to anyone who wanted to read one good book on the Battle of Waterloo.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gordon Corrigan at his best., 29 Jun. 2014
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This short and not too detailed account of the famous battle demonstrates Corrigan's sure touch. Of particular value to the general reader, Waterloo is put firmly in its historical context, as are the lives of all the main participants, especially the often overlooked Prussians under the redoubtable Marshall Blucher. In particular he is not too dazzled by the subsequent idolatry heaped upon the valour of the British troops or indeed their General. Of Wellington's role he says that what tactically the Anglo-Dutch had to do was to hold on (in a good defensive position) until promised help arrived, a role which many of his contemporaries could have achieved equally well. But, as is stressed throughout, Wellington was in command of an allied army, and that he, possibly alone among the allied leaders, had the tact as well as the military 'clout', to get the best out of his motley collection of forces. I have read many accounts of the battle itself, but in this one enjoyed particularly the accounts of the days leading up to it, culminating in Quatre Bras and Ligny, and even more of the brief campaign which followed the battle and the final political settlement. Peripheral to the main work, I was intrigued by the author's views on the minor drawbacks of Kindle technology when dealing with military history, and was pleased that these have been mitigated to a certain extent by the citing of footnotes (always a delight in any work by Corrigan) at the end of each chapter, rather than the end of the book. Altogether a fascinating account of a campaign which has many contemporary resonances.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Controversial Battle., 24 July 2014
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The battle of Waterloo continues to attract more and more books despite the fact there has been nothing new to say for at least 40 years.
Among the many accounts of Waterloo this is, nevertheless, a useful addition for the general reader, particularly for those with little or no prior knowledge of the battle.

It is based almost entirely on secondary sources and is written in mainly narrative form. It reveals, therefore, nothing new about a very controversial battle, one that changed the destiny of Europe. A major weakness, shared by many accounts of battles, is it gives the impression that events were clear cut, x did this then y did that. The truth is that no battle can accurately be described in that form. As any honest general will tell you, warfare is chaos. Plans seldom work out as intended, friction rules the battlefield. The problem, of course, is that this would not sell books, hence the attempts to portray a battle as a slick piece of well-oiled planning. The result is, therefore,false and very misleading. It is not warfare it is Hollywood.

Waterloo has long been sold, regrettably sometimes even in staff colleges, as an example of brilliant soldiering and exemplary courage.It is in many ways a false picture as scarce documents, including invaluable French ones, reveal it was in fact a mixture of irony, accident, folly, bravery and sheer luck. It demonstrated as do most battles, that the winner is invariably the side that makes fewer errors than the loser. Having done numerous 'staff rides' of the battlefield it is clear that Wellington was lucky as he made several errors.

The paintings of the battle, it should be noted, were invariably painted from memory years after the battle and hence are overblown and inaccurate. They serve only to perpetuate myth.

It is often not realised that until very recently our knowiedge of what happened depended heavily on the reports of British officers present. Some of these reports were written 20 years after the battle. They were hardly objective in their descriptions of the battle. Indeed, some accounts have been shown to be false or very exaggerated. We should also remember that Wellingto had both eyes firmly fixed on a political career after retirement from the army. A mundane victory would have been very bad PR for him. He and his friends made sure the PR was very favourable.

One of the many myths about this battle is that it was won by brilliant tactics conducted by Wellington. As the author shows, and as the Sandhurst Professor Chesney amply demonstrated in the 1850's, this is false. Any one of a dozen generals could have done what Wellington did. Also, our contribution to the Allied camp in terms of numbers was very small.

Waterloo is, among other things, a classic case of 'what if'? Wellington's remark( not all historians believe he said it) about the outcome being a close run thing is an understatement. Wellingto did not win this battle, Napoleon lost it by disastrous tactics, tactics that were alien to the greatest general of the age, and of many others. Circumstances forced him to change.

Despite the number of books on this battle, there are still numerous things about it that are shrouded in mystery and controversy. This account does not address the major ones. Much more is needed about the vital contribution of 73 year-old Blucher. His use of cavalry after the French retreated was masterly. Many more myths should have been exposed by the author.

This is an easy general read. Later in the year two more solidly researched accounts are due out. One will prove to be very revealing. As the years roll by we are gradually getting near to the truth. This will upset the nationalistic diehards wwho always prefer myth to the truth.

Meanwhile, the book by Barbero is far superior.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars C J Spiegel All in all a well written history ..., 11 Aug. 2014
By 
C. J. Spiegel (Lenah Valley, Tasmania Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
C J Spiegel

All in all a well written history. Possibly because I have read more than most about the Napoleonic War, I felt that he spent too much time on the Napoleonic War before Waterloo, but if this is the first book you have ever read on the subject, this makes it ideal for you.

He brings some interesting insights to the conduct of the battle and the culture of the Army and society at the time. The only criticism I would have is that it would be improved by more tactical maps.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in Military History, 15 May 2015
This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
Read my friend's copy, a very good history. Am now waiting for the later version by Pegasus Books, same page numbers, etc., but in paperback, so compare the 2 versions, and consider before buying. Still highly recommended as a thoughtful, incisive, easily -read account of this great and decisive battle,a turning point in European History.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it., 5 April 2015
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G. Lewis "Grumpy" (Off to Work I go) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
A very fair and complete review from both sides. Loved it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 19 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
Not really any new insights
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb account of the battle. The author combines ..., 8 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
A superb account of the battle. The author combines his military experience and historical knowledge with a wry and clear writing to produce what can only be described as a masterpiece.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waterloo - Corrigan, 16 July 2014
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C. J. Newbould (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Not exactly ground breaking but a superb explanation of the ground, the men involved, their weapon and tactics. Gordon Corrigan brings an old soldier's perspective that is more illuminating than many academic historians I have read. He is very readable and for those who have never read much about Waterloo 1815, this is a very good place to start.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you want a general book about Napoleonic armies I'm sure there are better ones, but this is OK, 13 Aug. 2014
By 
L. WARD - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies (Hardcover)
Disappointing. Lots of background and little detail of the battle. This is not a book about Waterloo, but more a general study of Napoleonic Armies. There are quite a few mistakes, including the view that the Prussians wore black uniforms (who's not heard of Prussian blue?) and the Prussians had light dragoons and so no heavy cavalry at Waterloo. If you want a general book about Napoleonic armies I'm sure there are better ones, but this is OK. If you want to read about the battle, go elsewhere.
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Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies
Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies by Gordon Corrigan (Hardcover - 5 Jun. 2014)
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