The Sharpe Series (20) - Sharpe's Waterloo Paperback – 3 May 2005
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‘Sharpe and his creator are national treasures.' Sunday Telegraph
'Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation.' Daily Mail
'Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched.' Observer
‘The best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present. Cornwell really makes history come alive.’ George R.R. Martin
Richard Sharpe and the Waterloo Campaign, 15 June to 18 June 1815. It is 1815. Sharpe is serving on the personal staff of the inexperienced and incompetent Young Frog, William, Prince of Orange, who has been given command of a large proportion of the Allied force. More concerned with cutting a dash at a grand society ball in Brussels, the Young Frog refuses to listen to Sharpe's scouting reports of an enormous army marching towards them with the lately returned Napoleon at its head. When the Battle of Waterloo commences, Sharpe has to stand by and watch military folly on a grand scale. But at the height of the conflict, just as victory seems impossible, he makes a momentous decision. With his usual skill, courage and determination he takes command and the most hard-fought and bloody battle of his career becomes Sharpe's own magnificent triumph.See all Product description
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It is an excellent account of the battle, and I found it striking how similar in many ways it seemed to the novel he had written 24 years earlier - exactly, therefore, as he had predicted. However, I did suspect that he was working largely from the same set of notes - not a complaint, but certainly an observation. Although as Wellington noted, and Cornwell quoted more that once, you might as well write the history of a ball as of the battle, the author nevertheless made a series of chronologically sensible chapters work as a coherent whole. A real sense of the battle was gained and where there were controversies of interpretation these were highlighted. It was equally clear that he was still enthused by the period - frequently slipping into the historic present when the story gripped him. [I could only wish that he might return to Sharpe and Harper with that enthusiasm in his novels...]
I certainly recommend this - a history book that reads with the fluency and enjoyment of a novel.
It also makes me appreciate just how good the film "Waterloo" realy is, except for the charge of British cavalry, the "Greys", which showed a bone dry plain one moment, and a moras seconds later.