The Battle of Waterloo

Jeremy Black, Author . Random $26 (236p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6737-4

Cool British resolve defeats heavy-handed Gallic bluster in this probing study of the famous battle. University of Exeter military historian Black gives a lucid, if sometimes disjointed, narrative of the 1815 Waterloo campaign, set within a canny analysis of the grand strategy of the Napoleonic wars and of technological and organizational developments in 18th-century warfare. The author is disdainful of Napoleon's generalship in his last battle. In Black's reckoning, the French emperor is overconfident and lethargic, sitting in the rear and launching masses of infantry, artillery, and cavalry in unimaginative frontal assaults. Wellington, by contrast, is brave, shrewd, and energetic, always up front and under fire, encouraging his men and waiting for an opening to counterattack. Black paints a well-balanced portrait of the time, moving easily from the level of operations where generals plan and blunder to the firing line where common soldiers slaughter each other. He's at his most provocative in assessing Waterloo's world-historical import. Wellington's triumph is often judged a victory of reaction over revolution, but Black argues the opposite:the British, he cogently insists, were the era's real agents of change and progress, clearing away the “dead end”of Napoleon's bloody adventurism. (Mar. 16)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 03/01/2010
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Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-07430-9
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-84831-155-8
Open Ebook - 978-1-58836-996-3
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