10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2001
The name of David Chandler is likely to be familiar to anyone with interests in military history in the English language. His specialities are the campaigns of the first Duke of Marlborough and those of Napoleon Bonaparte. This book contains a collection of essays published on Chandler's retirement from Great Britain's Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Several of them have never been published elsewhere, while those which have are only to be found in small-circulation journals. The selection is carefully made to span the full period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, without attempting to be a single-volume history of them. Thus there are articles about the causes of the outbreak of the wars, about the nature of the Battle of Marengo (perhaps the best article of all), about Austerlitz, Maida, the Peninsular War, the Russian campaign and Napoleon's fall. I suppose that a certain degree of knowledge is assumed of the reader; references are made, for instance, to Archduke Charles and the Battle of Wagram, which are not otherwise discussed in this volume. The reader new to this territory should not be deterred, but should probably have the same author's "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" to hand while reading this book. Chandler's style is always readable, if occasionally a touch repetitive. His knowledge of history outside his main subjects does seem questionable, as the odd incorrect date or misquotation implies, but on Napoleonic matters he is not merely encyclopaedic, but also deeply considered. His assessment of the role of the partisans in the defeat of the French occupiers of Iberia is excellent in this respect. Chandler is no starry-eyed admirer of Bonaparte and shows that he has little stomach for those who are, but he is not beating a nationalist drum, either. Certainly, he is an admirer of the Duke of Wellington, but he places the British contribution to Napoleon's defeat carefully in its context (if anything, he underestimates it). The book displays a few examples of inept proof-reading, but nothing disastrous. All in all, this collection should appeal to anyone who can read English and has an interest in the Napoleonic Wars.