Salamanca, 1812: Wellington Crushes Marmont (Praeger Illustrated Military History) Hardcover – 17 Feb 2005
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About the Author
Ian Fletcher has established a reputation as a Napoleonic historian of the first rank, particularly on the British army in the Peninsular. He has been widely published and among his several titles for Osprey are Elite 52 Wellington's Foot Guards and Campaign 59 Vittoria 1813. Bill Younghusband was born in 1936. He was educated in Devon and studied at Newton Abbot College of Art. He has been interested in all things military since childhood, and this interest was compounded through the reading of authors such as G.A. Henty. In 1954 he joined the Life Guards and saw service in Egypt and Cyprus. Bill is a respected military illustrator of more than 15 years experience, and has illustrated many Osprey books including Men-at-Arms 299 Austrian Auxiliary Troops 1792-1816 and Campaigns 48 Salamanca 1812 and 59 Vittoria 1813. He is married with one daughter and currently lives in Ireland.
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Top Customer Reviews
As is usual in the Osprey campaign books, the campaign is situated in the theatre of operation, with descriptions of the armies, a comprehensive order of battle, pen pictures of the commanders as well as a description of the battlefield today and advice on wargaming it.
How would I make it better? Some of the period illustrations are so inaccurate as to be pointless, others are there as padding: the obligatory pictures of the 95th Rifles - and then the comment that they played little part in the battle. Some of the commissioned illustrations (with all due respect to Mr Younghusband) do seem to have been done down to a budget. Aerial photographs would perhaps be prohibitively expensive, but perhaps satellite ones (from Google Earth?) might be used in the next edition? As a battlefield visitor I would appreciate "proper" maps - and perhaps advice on the sheet numbers at 1:50,000 scale.
Salamanca, btw, is still one of the best battlefields to visit, even though (since this book was published) the west side of the battlefield has been cut off by a new motorway. The City is fantastic - and do look out for the relief of Wellington in the Plaza Major.
By David Cook, author of Fire and Steel: The Soldier Chronicles Books 1-5.
Good so far, but there are a couple of negatives. Firstly, Mr Fletcher is a well established author and expert on this period, but I find that his actual skill with language is sometimes questionable and there are some lumpy bits in this book - in particular it kicks off with two grammatical howlers in the Introduction which make me wonder whether anyone proof-reads this stuff. My other issue with the work is that it very substantially replays the traditional, Napier-vintage view of the battle, complete with implicitly anti-Spanish overtones. Wellington is portrayed as an undoubted super-hero, and, for example, the dreadful injustice he inflicted on Colonel Bevan to save face after the French escape from Almeida is glossed over.
Overall, this was a pretty good buy as a new paperback; it is currently out of print, and secondhand copies are changing hands at prices which really are not justifiable. It is not a patch on Rory Muir's book on Salamanca, for example, which is still available.
To be honest, I gave up reading it about half way but, before I did so, I identified the following problems: contradictions in the text, wrong directions for the various movements, very poor and weak maps which do not even cover the area under discussion, inconsistent spelling of towns and villages (four spellings of one village!), an unjustifiable level of personal detail etc.
Mr Fletcher has tried to make it his "unique selling proposition" by criticizing the British cavalry of the Peninsular War more than anyone else and he is at it again in this book, though I will acknowledge this time he makes a few praises. The summary of Garcia Hernandez is written with great accuracy and yet no one knows exactly where this skirmish/battle took place (and I say that as one who has been to Garcia Hernandez - which has been renamed).
All in all, whatever your level or interest in such matters, I would give this book a very wide berth.