The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War

David Gates, Author W. W. Norton & Company $29.95 (557p) ISBN 978-0-393-02281-0
In 1808, on the Iberian peninsula, Napoleon began a six-year war of attrition against Spain and its British and Portuguese allies. Expecting a quick victory, the French emperor instead found himself facing a strong foe (led by Britain's Duke of Wellington), including popular opposition in the form of guerrilla bands, and constant supply and communications problems. In this thorough military history, Gates, a university lecturer in Scotland, offers a battle-by-battle account of the war in its various theaters, with maps and other illustrations. His descriptions of the brutal fighting on barren terrain are clear and balanced, making this a valuable modern view of the conflict. He likens the ""Spanish Ulcer,'' as the ultimately devastating defeat of Napoleon was called, to the present-day Soviet attempt to impose rule against the popular will in Afghanistan. History Book Club selection. (April 21)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1986
Release date: 04/01/1986
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-306-81083-1
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