on 29 June 2009
The Franco-Italian/Austrian War of 1859 (known to Italians as Risorgimento) that set Italy on the path to becoming an independent nation has almost been ignored in detail by English Language books which have tended to look at the Crimean war and then fast forward through the American Civil War to the Franco-Prussian War.
This book, therefore, provides welcome detail of the war and the two principal battles - Magenta and Solferino (at the time the largest battle in Europe). As with all Osprey publications it has plenty of maps and illustrations. It shows how the smaller but better led (particularly at the lower levels) French, aided by the Piedmontese rang rings around the Austrians who were held back on so many levels (poor leadership, poorly motivated soldiers, outdated weapons and tactics, limited grasp of logistics). I would recommend this book to any historian looking at how warfare developed in the era and those interested in Italian history.
on 3 July 2009
The Continental European campaigns of the mid C19th have been crying out for greater coverage, sitting, as they did, on the cusp of fundamental changes in how war was waged, both at the tactical and strategic levels.
This is a workmanlike account of the 1859 Campaign in Italy, providing the reader with a primer on who did what where, when and why. Unfortunately, it is very much a missed opportunity. There are an abundance of French, German and Italian language sources for this campaign. Presumably due to the language barrier, the author ignores all but a few French accounts, instead relying on outdated English accounts over 100 years old. This is particularly regrettable in the light of the well-organised and accessible military archives in France and Austria - or even printed sources. Disappointing.