cover image The Savage Storm: Britain on the Brink in the Age of Napoleon

The Savage Storm: Britain on the Brink in the Age of Napoleon

David Andress. Little, Brown (UK) (IPG, dist.), $35 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4087-0192-8

Chronicling Britain’s quarter-century as France’s principal foe in the Napoleonic Wars, British historian Andress (1789) offers a dual military and sociopolitical history of the turbulent era following the disastrous loss of its American colonies. A deeply divided Britain confronted mass revolt in Ireland, King George III’s madness, severe food shortages, the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, and the most widespread period of violent and coordinated revolt in England since the Civil Wars of the 1640s. Less than a year before Nelson’s stunning victory against the French in 1798’s Battle of the Nile, the Royal Navy was almost paralyzed by mass mutiny from sailors whose grievances ranged from miserable wages to inadequate pensions for crippled veterans, while 36 were hanged for their roles in the Nore mutiny, with over 350 sentenced to floggings and deportation. Wellington’s defeat of the French in 1812’s Battle of Salamanca followed violence on the home front as thousands of British troops marched into Manchester, the Midlands, and West Riding to quell over a dozen riots by aggrieved workers threatened with displacement by industrialization. Although his arguments are occasionally circuitous and his sweeping narrative covers too vast a canvas, Andress proves a perceptive and adroit storyteller. Illus. (Oct.)