Top critical review
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on 13 September 2012
Fusiliers starts by telling the story of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in America during the War of Independence through the eyes of a number of different individuals letters from varying Officers and ranks. This makes for an interesting narrative but the story soon loses its way as Mark Urban obviously struggled to find one consistent source of information to cover the whole war. As a result individuals you have been following leave the regiment or are killed or injured in battle quite early on, making the whole story seem disjointed and the characters hard to empaphise with.
Nor do I agree with the claim of the sub title "How the British Army lost America but learned how to fight". It is clear from reading the history of the previous French and Indian Wars that Britain learned its lesson on frontier fighting during that conflict. By the time of the War of Independence Britain had already succesfully learned to incorporate light companies into its regiments and to employ flanking strategies to deal with the American militia. I'm not sure Mark Urban ever really gives any convincing arguements to back up his claim except to say that the Americans were still better at this type of skirmishing warfare.
As a history of the War of Independence "Fusiliers" is too tightly focused on the military aspects, and specifically on the actions of the one regiment. For a broader overview I would reccomend Robert Harvey's book "A Few Bloody Noses" in its place.
This book would be of most interest to someone specifically interested in the military history of the War of Independence as there are some very good explanations of the weapons and tactics used and some detailed maps. However, it is not an easy read and could have benefited from more of a narrative history approach to add more colour and more descriptions to the story told in the letters quoted throughout.