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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 3 August 2008
The author has a depth of knowledge of events which are enlightening and entertaining. Much effort appears to have gone into unearthing contemporary accounts giving a refreshing and unbiased view of events with a ring of truth about them unlike the standard texts which can be misleading generalisations. Well worth the money, not only for a gripping read as well as an historical record .
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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.
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on 17 September 2014
I like Mark Urban's works, his thorough research allied to his writing style makes for history I can absorb and enjoy. For so many years having been fed the US movie machines view it is a pleasure to absorb the truth, for good and bad. Neither side is squeaky clean but then again, it was war.
Excellent
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on 6 October 2014
Mark Urban has written a superb tale of the American War of Independence, well researched and unbiased in opinions which destroys many of the myths about that War . By concentrating on one regiment present at many of the focal conflicts of the time, he weaves a concise and fascinating account . I would urge anyone interested in the conflict on either side of the Atlantic to buy this book which I expect to read more than once. I purchased the hardback edition of this book from an Amazon retailer.
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The American War of Independence is a rich source for historical debate. How might the rebels have been defeated? How might the Crown ever have thought it could win? It was fought from Quebec to the borders of Florida. It had the strange sight of the supporters of Liberty allied to absolutism, and an imperial power linked to slave risings.

Mark Urban has picked on a clever historical witness: a regiment of the British Army, to follow through this long complex war. Because it fought in many places, and fought differently as the art of war developed we see the war through the eyes of men of the Royal Welch Fusiliers with whom we have journeyed for a long time. Urban is not of the mythologising American strain, nor the enragé school of Bicheno, and his history is one of a war full of anomaly and inconsistency. It is all the better for it.
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on 8 April 2012
As a Military historian that had limited knowledge of the American War of Independance I could'nt wait to read this book. Very well written book that covers both British and American accounts. This is opposed to the large majority of biased American Accounts of the war. It covers both the Political and Military backgrounds to this war and includes many first hand accounts from Privates up to Generals. It is great to read about how the Fusiliers in particular were the Special Forces/Elite troops of the day. I could not put it down. I would definately recommend.
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on 24 May 2009
Seeing as there are very few easily accessible books with a balanced view on the American War of Independence this title really does attract, as the way in which Urban attempts to address the conflict appears intriguing. Sadly however this has to be one of the most disjointed books I have ever come across. Most strikingly it really doesn't seem apparent whether Urban is writing a historical narrative of the war as a whole or simply focusing on the single regiment. Attempting to follow a single line infantry Regiment and attempting to tell the story of the entire war through them does not work, as much as he tries to insist they in some form or other were in every significant contact or engagement. Consequently he has to relate to the wider war, such as the events in the north and in Canada, but in doing so he then loses himself by trying to micro analyse the conflict through their eyes, which really doesn't work.

If he had embraced this as a bit more of a historical narrative taking in more accounts from other units and the politics of the war it could have been a good read as there are thrilling comprehensive parts, such as the description of Boston and Lexington Green early on.

However the more fundamental issue for me is the real lack of recognition of the history of the Seven Years War in North America. Urban constantly relates back to the `Minden' men from the Regiments part of that engagement there in 1759 in the early period of the Seven Years War on the Continent, but this really isn't where he should be looking. Claiming that the British regulars such as the Fusiliers came to North America with little knowledge of irregular tactics and using light troops due to their experience in battles such as Minden is misguided. It was the British who themselves formed provincial light companies of troops in the Ohio valley and Albany campaigns in the mid-late 1750's to combat the French's near monopoly of using Indian allies for the same light role tasks. Keeping this very short the British Army, although not the Fusiliers directly, had already learnt the hard way of how to fight in North America through what was a bloodier and indeed more crucial global conflict in The Seven Years War, thus in my view severely limiting Urbans argument.

Lastly, without it looking like a complete assassination of the book, Urbans lack of military knowledge is rather apparent from the off. For example I don't really believe he grasped the regimental structure with his description of companies relating more to platoon level in reality and the description of battles being rather thin militarily.

Despite the encouraging title and subject matter sadly, I believe, it really doesn't deliver.
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on 30 April 2015
A great read if you enjoy history from a soldiers perspective. I was in New York when I read this book and could picture the battles and skirmishes of the British Redcoat in the Americas of 1776. The book is well put together by Mark Urban considering a lot of his material is extracted from the letters of officers and soldiers.
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on 8 January 2015
The book was easy to read and gave me a new insight into the American revolutionary war and subsequent developments within the British army. I would recommend this book to anyone with a similar interest in this subject.
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on 19 October 2014
An engaging book, I was looking for an overview of the American War of Independence. This seems to do it for me as it views it from a human perspective taking into account varying points of view which is refreshing.
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