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BOOK REVIEW: Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles

by Bernard Cornwell

I thought this was a work of fiction, but imagine my surprise when after a few chapters, I realized this was a non-fiction book.

Odd that Cornwell abandoned active voice for mostly passive voice, which I find awfully hard to read. Waterloo contained the requisite information within, with a new tidbit here and there taken from a letter, but overall, I ended up skimming through it. I imagine it's more valuable to those new to the period and less so to those steeped in wargaming lore.

Tags:  Napoleonic 

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BOOK REVIEW: Artilleries Francaises: De la Revolution et du Premier Empire

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, June 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Artilleries Francaises: De la Revolution et du Premier Empire

by Ludovic Letrun and Jean-Marie Mongin

ALL IN FRENCH TEXT.

Oversized at 8.4x12 inches, this 240-page volume covers artillery uniforms, equipment, flags, limbers, and guns of the French Revolution and Napoleonic period. Field guns of various sizes, siege guns, naval guns (le canon de marine), pontoons, and more get the full color treatment. You don't have to read French to take advantage of this exceptional uniform resource, but it helps. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Napoleonic 

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BOOK REVIEW: How Far From Austerlitz? Napoleon 1805-1815

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, June 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: How Far From Austerlitz? Napoleon 1805-1815

by Alistair Horne.

Another mis-titled book, especially when the dust jacket blurb says "chronicles Napoleon's rise and fall." Yes, the title's a play on a quote, but the dates should be 1792-1815.

That said, this well-written overview of, ahem, Napoleon's rise and fall, shines on every page. Mixing the political with the military, Horne's analytical approach to the officer turned Emperor provides a an easily understandable study of how an obscure fellow became ruler of Europe stretching from Lisbon to Moscow...and how he lost it all. Even though I knew the general outline of events, I was always fascinated by Horne's ability to explain events and influences as they merged together. Sometimes, a general history book is exactly what we need to see the strategic forest from all the tactical trees.

I wasn't that keen on the comparisons with Hitler, as these seemed out of place and unnecessary. That said, I'd read a Horne book analyzing how an obscure fellow from Austria became ruler of Europe stretching from Pyrenees to almost Moscow, and, Narvik to almost Alexandria. Horne's written quite a few books, not about Hitler per se, but this is a 1996 book, so he may have gotten around to it.

Note that the battles are not covered in great detail. Austerlitz is probably the best covered (pages 133-190 out of 398). You get the gist of all the great campaigns and the significant battles, but the book is about how Napoleon generated successes and failures and how he handled the repercussions of each.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Napoleonic 

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BOOK REVIEW: Riflemen: The History of the 5th Battalion 60th (Royal American) Regiment 1797-1818

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Wednesday, June 19, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Riflemen: The History of the 5th Battalion 60th (Royal American) Regiment 1797-1818

by Robert Griffith

Although not as famous as the 95th Rifles, aka Sharpe's rifles, the 5th served in most of the Peninsula during the Napoleonic wars. If you want an in-depth look at a battalion on campaign across years, often down to individual soldiers, this is it. This also covers the battalion's tour of duty in Ireland and Caribbean.

This includes a general history of the battles, including Oporto, Talavera, Bussaco, Fuentes de Onoro, Albuerra, Vittoria, and across Pyrenees and into France. The level of detail is quite amazing.

Includes black and white maps and illustrations and some color plates. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Napoleonic 

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Book Review: Spying for Wellington: British Military Intelligence in the Peninsula War

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Monday, May 13, 2019

by Huw J. Davies.

Dry prose conveys a wealth of research about British intelligence operations during the Napoleonic Wars in Spain and Portugal. Wellington drew from a variety of sources, including guerrillas, battlefield observations, actual spies (the guy in Bayonne, France, counting troops marching by to Spain), and surprisingly, about 25 or 30 staff officers who took a detachment of cavalry and ranged beyond enemy lines poking their noses in all sorts of places. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Espionage  Napoleonic 

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