The epic career of Napoleon was brought to a shattering end on the evening of June 18, 1815, when his hastily formed legions faced the Anglo-Allied armies under the command of the Duke of Wellington. It was the only time these men — the two greatest captains of their age — fought against each other. Waterloo, once it was over, put an end to twenty-two years of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and led to a century of relative peace and progress in Europe.
When the wars of the future did come, they were fought with infinitely more appalling methods by a constantly changing balance of powers. At Waterloo, the honor of bold, lavish uniforms and, at least initially, the aesthetic beauty of battle were still intact.
With precision and elegance, Andrew Roberts lucidly sets the political, strategic, and historical scene before offering a breathtaking account of each successive stage of the battle.
He also draws on a recently discovered document from 1854 that casts new light on just how the battle was lost. It is a confession from a French officer that helps to explain why the French cavalry charged when it did — unsupported by infantry or artillery, and headlong at well-defended British squares. It shows that accident rather than design may have led to the debacle that lost Napoleon the battle, the campaign, and the war.
Authoritative and engrossing, Waterloo is a brilliant portrait of a legendary turning point in modern history, after which the balance of world power, the legend of Napoleon, and the art of war were never the same.
From BooklistThis summary narrative supplies basic data about Waterloo and evaluates mistakes by both Wellington and Napoleon that make the historic battle one of the most worked-over topics for speculation in military history. A Saturday Night Live skit once parodied the phenomenon by wondering, What if Napoleon had a B-52 at the Battle of Waterloo? Roberts' original contribution to historical contingency--for such an exhaustively studied battle, his research, amazingly enough, turned up new evidence--is that a cavalry charge by Marshal Ney, possibly the gravest error the French made during the battle, was a spontaneous assault rather than an intended one. Smoothly integrating the what-ifs into the chronology, Roberts joins the essential facts about Waterloo, such as its area and relief, to the morale of individual units involved. Emphasizing the courage and fear that rippled over the battlefield during its daylong course, Roberts instills an appreciation for Waterloo as a horrific experience saturated with alternative possible outcomes. A must for the military shelf.
From Book News Annotation
For the general reader, Roberts describes the battle of Waterloo, a turning point in the Napoleonic wars, in which Napoleon's army lost to the Duke of Wellington, ending his reign and 22 years of fighting. He recounts the campaign and war strategies, and the five phases of the battle in detail. Maps are included, along with letters by Major Robert Dick and Captain Fortune Brack, and the Duke of Wellington's despatch about the battle. Roberts is the author of Napoleon and Wellington and a fellow at the Institute of Napoleonic Studies.
Andrew Roberts is the author of Napoleon and Wellington and Eminent Churchillians. He is a fellow of the Institute of Napoleonic Studies and the Royal Society of Literature.
Book Dimension :
length: (cm)21.3 width:(cm)14.7