Top critical review
Engaging but occasionally flawed
on 7 November 2017
Urban has produced an easy-to-read synthesis of the many contemporary accounts left by members of Wellington's 95th Regiment, aimed at readers who have enjoyed 'Sharpe'. His style is engaging and the authorial device of concentrating on four main characters helps to maintain the reader's interest. The book does, however, suffer from inadequate citing of sources. He claims that the rifleman could fire one shot per minute while most authorities claim two shots per minute, and more if the men treated the rifle as a smooth bore by using the paper cartridge and dispensing with the leather patches that helped the ball grip the rifling. Since this is at variance with the usual opinion it would have been helpful if he had given his source. Nor did he cite Rory Muir's online notes to Chapter 27 of 'Wellington, The Path to Victory' for the variant reading of Harry Smith's relationship with Juana Dolores de Leon.
Other reviewers have commented on the absence of useful maps; while it is interesting to see Lieut. Thomas Mitchell's maps, since they show what Wellington had to work from, the general reader who doesn't have access to modern Peninsular War maps, such as those of Col. Nick Lipscombe, needs more than Urban supplies to make sense of the battle scenes.
Overall the book was an interesting introduction to this fascinating period of the 95th's history, and the integration of original accounts may encourage readers to look at these eye-witness recollections more closely as many of them are freely available online.