Battle: A New History of Waterloo
Prices for book: Battle: A New History of Waterloo
Book ISBN: 9780802714534
Author(s): Alessandro Barbero
Document type: Trade Cloth
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A new history of Waterloo
Refreshing to read about Waterloo without all the anglo saxon prejudice. An honoust analisis of the batlle, put in perspective and based on many different sources and facts, rather than another blind reclamation of Siborne nonsense (like for example Rory Muir did). And last but not least, the writer is a very good storyteller.
Der Schlact bei Waterloo!
This author has taken a somewhat different approach to a very well covered topic. Instead of provoding the usual overall descriptions of the campaign and events leading up to the great battle itself, here we have eliminated that process and concern ourselves solely with the famous encounter itself. This alone makes this book somewhat different on the topic.
Being a non-English speaking historian this author brings other aspects into his evaluation of the battle. While he quotes many of the famous English memoirs, we also get some French, Allied and Prussian sources. Care is also taken to show that primary sources are not without their risks. Different primary sources describing the same series of events can often have radically different view points. Care must be taken when using these sources to quote and follow events, as numerous inconsistencies can abound.
This Italian author was involved long ago with the epic film of Waterloo so he comes to the topic with an almost cimeatic perspective. Waterloo itself is used as a means to an end. By jumping to the battle right off the author can use it to clarify personalities and events within the context of the action itself. A unique and different approach. The short chapters allow for quick, yet in depth views at various aspects of the action. Taken together these little chapters add up and provide a very comprehensive look at the battle.
The author provides some interesting details about formations used at various times during the fighting. The famed French Guard are described as half elite (Old Guard)and half very good, but less elite (Middle Guard). Those 9 battalions that assaulted Wellington's lines toward the climax of the battle were roughly even in number. Therefore they were not as impressive as we have been lead to believe, although 2 battalions of the Old Guard did manage to evict almost an enire Prussian Korps from Placenoit village.
The formation they used to attack the allied line was a slow moving square formation, instead of the standard attack column which most English accounts attest too. This formation provided the Guard more protection against cavalry, and might have given them slightly more firepower than column. The author also notes the effectiveness of French musketry, something not always shown in earlier works. This formation was still blasted by the British Guards and line battalions, but it is interesting to find that the Guard may have attacked in this unusual formation.
Details like this are what make this book quite good, however the author sometimes gets his terminology mixed up. Riflemen of the British 95th Rifles were not referred too as Fusiliers! This and other minor mistakes detracts slightly from what is a very good and entertianing work
overall. A good read and useful to compare with older, more traditional works.
Roger Kennedy (Amazon.com)
NEW INSIGHTS ABOUND
Mr. Barbero does an excellent job of reconstructing the battle of Waterloo. New insights abound such as the deadly efficiency of the French lancers, the important role played by skirmishers and how nearly finished the British were. The narrative is well-written so cudos must be given to the translator's skills as well. My only complaints are the the maps - there are no smaller scale maps showing troop dispositions - and the lack of an order of battle. Otherwise, THE BATTLE is an entertaining and informative study of Napoleon's last and most desperate battle.
Michael W. Kennedy (Amazon.com)
A little different view on the Battle of Waterloo
This book is new from two perspectives:
1. The human interest perspective. Loads of anecdotes and "soldier level" experiences. (well foot noted.)
2. It didn't paint the Allies as invincible. I think it was the most accurate portrayal of the battle and the ebe and flow of the momentum that I have read. It showed, for the first time that I've read, how close the Allies cam to losing the day. It gave positive points to the French forces, and portrayed the Prussians in a very realistic light.
Definitely well worth reading. I couldn't put it down.
James D. Turinetti (Amazon.com)
Masterly Survey of this Battle
I first thought this was a reprint of Rambaud's novel. I suppose it is hard to find new titles, and indeed, new perspectives after Chandler's books. Professor Barberro has managed with magisterial brilliance, however. Mingling the view from Wellington's saddle with ground level experience in the line gives an immediacy and movement that are not common in serious histories. There are useful chapters on arms and armies but the book maintains its pace.
Most books in English become fixated on red coats. Not here, fortunately, with a much better view of the Allies as a whole. The French and Prussians get more attention, as they should, although the writer is suprisingly remote from Napoleon. One gets little feel for his thinking, which admittedly has always been something of a puzzle.
Superb book. Should be read by anyone with an interest in history.
Terry Oreilly (Amazon.com)
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