On the Napoleonic Wars (Greenhill Military Paperback) Paperback – 15 Feb 1999
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This collection of Chandler''s work presents essays, valuable articles and lectures on important aspects of the dramatic Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. '
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Michael G. England
In the essay on Marengo Chandler tells of Colonel Pascal Vallongue of the Depot de Guerre, an honest officer trying to do his duty, and producing a generally accurate version of Marengo in 1803. First pleasing Napoleon, the then First Consul orders a changed rewrite that has the battle going exactly as planned. All copies of the original are ordered burned, but a War Ministry clerk saves one by hiding it under his blotter.
The report is changed yet again, and Chandler lays out the sequence of confusing events in such a way that it is clearly understood how and why it was done and who was responsible for the `evolution' of Napoleon's ordered rewrite of history.
The weaknesses of the volume are the last two chapters where Chandler again attempts to analyze Napoleon as well as comment on a 'Jominian Legacy.' In my opinion, he largely fails here, and it is another attempt to try and fit a square peg in a round whole, attempting to reconcile Napoleon's method of waging war into a formula.
The use of anything by Jomini can be judged as suspect, not only for Jomini's obvious character flaws, but also because of Jomini's myriad inaccuracies, which fatally hurts the author's analysis.
Still, this is a most valuable book that should be read by all students of the period. It is entertaining, lively, and except for the last two chapters, some of the best work Chandler ever produced.
I would cautiously recommend this book to those who don't mind the extra content and are willing to put in the effort.