Waterloo: A New History of the Battle and its Armies Hardcover – 5 Jun 2014
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A vigorous, lucid, well-organised and entertaining account of the Waterloo campaign and the armies that fought it. Author: David Crane Source: Spectator
A brisk, no-nonsense, soldierly account, which is packed with facts... Superb Author: Nigel Jones Source: Literary Review
A hugely enjoyable, illuminating and very gory read Source: Catholic Herald
Lively and entertaining... Even for those well-acquainted with Waterloo, this text is an enjoyable contribution to the extensive literature Source: Soldier
Gripping... A superb addition to an overscuffed genre Source: Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
A brilliant new military history of the Battle of Waterloo, which details the campaign and battle, its armies and their commanders, and brings fresh insight to this epic conflict.See all Product description
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On many occasions he raises important questions about what happened at key moments and why and then concludes they happened so let’s move on? It is this flippant approach that although endearing results in a poor historical account.
He states in footnotes before the dramatic climax of the attack of the guard – “There is considerable disagreement among historians about exactly how many and which battalions of the Guard were involved in this final effort and what formation they were in. What follows seems to this author to be most likely, but he would not regard it as a resigning issue if he was wrong.”
He is wrong on the scant detail he provides according to other recently published accounts and he makes no attempt to consider alternatives or provide any reason or evidence as to how he came to these conclusions?
He lists among his bibliography Mark Adkin’s Waterloo companion but, appears to have ignored much of the evidence and statistics collected in this excellent book by another former army officer.
One example is his composition of the grand battery to include the horse artillery from the cavalry divisions and the 12pdrs of the Guard at odds with Adkins companion. He then rightly says these would not fit in on the battlefield and makes a very spurious claim that they may have been deployed in two lines. The more reasoned argument is they were not there so the guns that were had plenty of room and no need to deploy in two lines! The result of these spurious claims lead to more folly later when he claims the cavalry charges were unsupported because the horse batteries were all in the grand battery!
The account of the battle as scant as it is features ineffective fire from the French artillery resulting in few casualties. Continued ineffective attacks on the Hougoumont easily repulsed. An ineffective attack by D’Erlons column and the cavalry charges that had no effect on the squares and the final assault of the guard driven off by volleys from the British infantry. Based on this analysis the Anglo-allied army would have not taken many casualties at all! This is completely at odds with the statistical analysis of the casualties and most recent assessments of the battle.
I shall let the Duke of Wellingtons have the last say on the battle “It has been a damned serious business Blucher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing, the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life. By God! I don't think it would have been done if I had not been there.”
All in all a well written history. Possibly because I have read more than most about the Napoleonic War, I felt that he spent too much time on the Napoleonic War before Waterloo, but if this is the first book you have ever read on the subject, this makes it ideal for you.
He brings some interesting insights to the conduct of the battle and the culture of the Army and society at the time. The only criticism I would have is that it would be improved by more tactical maps.