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 Post subject: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2023 6:52 pm 
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Hello all. It seems to me that there's been more books (in English at least) about Waterloo than any other Napoleonic battle. I'm interested in which people think are the best.

I've been slowly working my way through all the Napoleonic battles (an incredibly enjoyable labor). I'll usually start with Chandler and Petre to provide a broad overview, then go "deeper" with someone like James Arnold (on Eylau and Friedland) and John Gill (for the Danube campaign of 1809). I've found that I get completely lost in Arnold or Gill without first having a high(er) level account from Chandler or Petre. Right now I'm reading John Fortescue's book on the Waterloo campaign. It's excerpted from his multi-volume History of the British Army; I certainly see his likes (Wellington) and dislikes (German historians), which don't bother me, but that's why I'm eager to find additional perspectives.

In which regard, I can't recommend Alex Mikaberidze's three books on Russian eyewitness accounts of 1807, 1812 and 1814 highly enough. Or his books on Berezina and Borodino and his History of the Napoleonic Wars.

Regards to one and all,

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 12:06 am 
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The one I have read is "The Battle" by Alessandro Barbero - but my scholarship pales in comparison to yours, so I cannot compare. In it Alessandro gives detailed accounts about tactical details that remind me of Keegan's "Face of Battle".

I am still picking through the list you shared :)

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2023 6:40 am 
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Wow - I knew that Barbero had written a book about Dante but I didn't know he did one on Waterloo. Just ordered! Thanks for the recommendation.

I remember reading Keegan's Face of Battle many years ago and really liking it, especially the section on Wellington (although not the section on U.S. Grant who I've always regarded as among the most overrated generals/human beings in American history).

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:14 pm 
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Barbero's book is excellent. It is easy to read and offers a mix of soldier and high command view points. To me, it is the best I have read for understanding how the battle played out. Earlier this week I started reading The Waterloo Campaign: The German Victory by Peter Hofschoer. This is the second of his two longer books on the campaign and starts the morning after Ligny and Quatre Bras. The title gives away his opinion. I also understand he is somewhat controversial as a scholar and very problematic as a person. I find Ligny and Quatre Bras fascinating to play as the Coalition. I have won Ligny once and lost horribly 3 times.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:55 pm 
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Thank you - the Hofshoer book sounds like a good one. Fortescue (English) dislikes the Germans, with particular venom for Gneisnau, but his most toxic barrages of loathing are reserved for the Prince of Orange and the "Netherlanders." An alternate perspective would be an enjoyable read. I picked up Andrew Fields' "Waterloo: The French Perspective" yesterday, which so far in is a very good read.

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-- Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington


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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2023 5:19 pm 
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I want to read Field's book too. It find it interesting to hate on the Dutch after how they fought at Quatre Bras... I guess not being British is enough lol

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2023 9:47 pm 
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I liked Barbero.

On the "Waterloo" front I got for Xmas the 2 volumes on Waterloo by John Hussey.

Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815. Volume I: From Elba to Ligny and Quatre Bras
Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815: Volume II - From Waterloo to the Restoration of Peace in Europe

They are waiting on my bed side table.

It should be a good and long read.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2023 9:09 am 
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Thanks David - I had my eye on the Hussey volumes, and you inspired me to pull the trigger. I picked up Ropes' "The Campaign of Waterloo" this week - published in 1892. I like the experience of reading those old books. Alas, a copy of the atlas that accompanied the original publication was $300, which I can't justify. Luckily I have the Etling/Espositio volume and the Sir John Fortescue's atlas of maps.

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20th East Devonshire Regiment of Foot
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We have always been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France.
-- Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington


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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2023 9:14 am 
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I just finished Waterloo by B. Cornwell.
I liked it.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2023 5:10 pm 
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For some contemporary writing on the Dutch, check out Veronica Baker-Smith's book Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2023 10:22 am 
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Mark Adkin has "Companion" books on Trafalgar, Gettysburg, the Western Front and Waterloo.

I have Trafalgar and Waterloo. The one on Waterloo is not a detailed retelling of the battle, but goes into great detail on the uniforms, formations, major commanders, infantry, artillery, cavalry, etc. It is fascinating just to read all of this.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2023 7:56 am 
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Kirk Allton wrote:
Mark Adkin has "Companion" books on Trafalgar, Gettysburg, the Western Front and Waterloo.

I have Trafalgar and Waterloo. The one on Waterloo is not a detailed retelling of the battle, but goes into great detail on the uniforms, formations, major commanders, infantry, artillery, cavalry, etc. It is fascinating just to read all of this.


I am lucky enough to own them all.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2023 8:03 pm 
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David Guegan wrote:
I liked Barbero.

On the "Waterloo" front I got for Xmas the 2 volumes on Waterloo by John Hussey.

Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815. Volume I: From Elba to Ligny and Quatre Bras
Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815: Volume II - From Waterloo to the Restoration of Peace in Europe

They are waiting on my bed side table.

It should be a good and long read.


So I started reading it last week. I am disappointed. It started well but after a while I discovered that he was often citing works from 19th or early 20th century most of the time.
It is shaping his point of view with a very English bias that we used to see in older books. In a way I have the feeling that this book should have been published in 1920 maybe to feel fresh.

I'm at chapter 9 right now. I still like some of it but I don't really care for his opinion. At some point he was talking about the lack of documentation about logistic on the British side because they didn't think about preserving it. But then he went to wonder if the French, Austrian and Prussian did the same or not. I would have been an historian on that subject I would have tried to find out about it instead of just wondering.
The interaction between Wellington HQ and the Prussian is interesting. The history on what happens in Belgium from March until the beginning of the campaign is interesting.
But I am not sure I would recommend it now.

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3ème Régiment de Grenadiers - Bataillon d'élite du 3ème Légère
2ème Brigade
Grenadiers de la Réserve
Réserve
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"From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step."
Napoléon Bonaparte

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Groucho Marx


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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2023 10:52 am 
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That is too bad. I think I need to read some of the recent scholarship on the French side (I am reading the second of Hofshoer's book on the German perspective and contribution). One thing that I find intriguing is why the French Army fell apart at Waterloo. I have read theories about morale etc., but I cannot help but wonder if Napoleon simply did not plan for a retreat as the day wore on if it really is as simple as that. Relying on a few Guard battalions to cover a retreat in the face of 100,000 foes is not a good idea.

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 Post subject: Re: Waterloo books
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2023 11:19 am 
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I've recently been working through the volumes by Henri Houssaye, a French historian/academician who fought in the Franco-Prussian war. There's one on 1814 campaign and one on the 1815 campaign. Incredibly well-written - an actual joy to read -- with a great overview of the French perspective without being an outright cheerleader. He is fair to all parties, I think. I'd recommend these as a good non-Allied view of the battles. Published, like so many other great Napoleonic books, by the Naval and Military Press.

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20th East Devonshire Regiment of Foot
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VI Division
III Peninsular Corps


We have always been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France.
-- Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington


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