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Tim ClaytonRessenyes

Autor/a de Finest Hour

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An interesting look into the state of the intelligence community during the Napoleonic wars. Clayton carefully lays out the steps whereby the British government found itself engaging with Bourbon Royalists, Breton independence fighters, and British popular opinion, to attempt to unite their country to resist the rvolutionary ideas of the French revolution entering English popular opinion. It covers the direct attempt on Napoleon's life on Christmas Eve 1800. The attempt failed, possibly by a failure to correvtly calculate the correct fuse length on the bomb, and set the British on a course of systematic defamation to firm up British opinion in favour of a French war, and, to try to remove the French leader by several other assassinaion attermpts. None of them came as close as the first one. But, the British were forced by circumstance, to sign onto the Peace of Amiens. and a precarious cessation of hostilities lasted for two years. The coronation of Napoleon as emperor of the French, during May of 1804, while it was the opening of the second set of wars, did seem to have halted that chapter in claudestine operations. The maps are useful, and there is a pocket guide to prominent figures in the opening phase of the Napoleonic wars.
 
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DinadansFriend | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Aug 25, 2023 |
When I picked this book up I was expecting to read about British (and possibly other allied forces) so-called 'black ops' against Napoleon and the French during the Napoleonic Wars at the start of the 19th Century. In fact, this book has a much narrower remit than that which, in all fairness, is laid out in the dusk jacket blurb. The book discusses two attempts on Napoleon's life, in 1800 and 1804, the British official support for those attempts and the British propaganda campaign against Napoleon during this period. As is required of all published history today, the British are portrayed as evil, war-mongering devils, and Napoleon as an innocent saintly figure who wants nothing more than to be left alone to promulgate peace and good will across Europe.

The breadth and depth of Clayton's research is enormous, as evidenced by a Cast of Characters at the front of the book with more than 200 entries. But this research works against the flow of the book. Every page seems to have references to a dozen different characters and I quickly and frequently lost track of who was who and who was important our not. The two assassination attempts should be exciting thriller-ish episodes, but all the dramatic brio is drained by the relentless listing of names and places, with no real characters shining through.

This seems to me a very one-sided analysis of some very exciting events that looses all momentum in the nooks and crannies of details we do not really need.

An interesting premise and potentially an exciting story, but ultimately a failure.½
 
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pierthinker | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Mar 18, 2022 |
While subtitled "The Battle of Britain", this is more than another study of the fighting in the sky over the UK. In fact the book starts with British Expeditionary Force in Belgium waiting for the shooting war to start. Using interviews, diaries and memoirs the authors describe what those British soldiers went through as the German armor and masses of men pushed them back to the English Channel.

The authors flip from ground forces to the English pilots who are fighting in France a one sided battle with obsolete planes and constant changing air fields. Fuel & parts were always in short supply. Once the Allied forces reach the Channel, we are given first hand accounts of what it was like to be caught on an open beach by Stukas and other enemy aircraft or finally getting aboard a ship heading for safety only to have to sunk and putting you back in the water.

Once the book moves to England and the more commonly accepted version of the Battle of Britain, we do end up on the fighter bases and follow pilots into the air into battle. We also follow several women who joined the air force and became the controllers who directed the pilots to the enemy bombers. They also formed romantic relationships with the young men and we read about the trauma of listening to them burning alive in their damaged aircraft.

We also read about the memories of the people who live and worked where the German bombs were falling. We also read about the terror of being under falling bombs and having your home destroyed or seeing your friends and neighbours blown to pieces.

Some other sections of the book look at the change of government from Chamberlain to Churchill and the behind the scenes maneuvering in the Conservative Party, the creation of the Lend-Lease Program, the sinking of the SS City of Benares with hundreds of children being evacuated to Canada aboard and the memories of American reporters who served in London during the Blitz.

The research for this book was done for the PBS TV series with the same title.
1 vota
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lamour | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Dec 2, 2017 |
When I started to read this book, I joked that I hadn't the slightest idea as to how it would end. What can you expect when reading a book about one of the best known battles from history? But after having read more than 500 pages, I was seriously relieved that the Duke of Wellington waved his hat, and that the allied nations had won the battle against Napoleon. Clayton brings the battle to life thanks to the detailed, hour to hour description. I have to add that of all four battles that took place in the four days mentioned in the title, the one at Wavre gets little attention.
 
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yvlind1 | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Oct 7, 2017 |
This book needs to be read slowly, to absorb the events of the battles.
 
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shdawson | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Nov 11, 2015 |
Catalog of a very full British Museum display of prints about the French Revolution and Napoleon. Most are British cartoons hostile to Napoleon (and sometimes vulgar, as with the pope kissing a French soldier's ass or Napoleon eating beans and trying to fart his fleet across the Channel to invade England). However others --both British and French --are serious pieces, sometimes sympathetic to Napoleon.
 
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antiquary | Mar 28, 2015 |
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 is considered a key moment in European history, even outside of this bicentenary year. Napoleon was defeated and Britain, rightly or wrongly, was established as a major power.

Tim Clayton's book is not much concerned with the political events that led to the Battle or with the ongoing impact on European political development. His concern is the detail of the Battle. Clayton provides a detailed, hour-by-hour examination of the engagement itself. Who was on the battlefield, what orders were given, who did what and to whom. Meticulous research and good use of contemporary accounts and soldierly reminiscences aim to tell us exactly what happened over those four days in June.

Clayton evokes the fighting experience very well: the chaos, the action, the experience of many small fights within the overall battle; the difficulty in seeing the 'big picture' at even senior levels of command. The book is slightly weaker when addressing non-combatants in the form of the wounded, the doctors and the many other support personnel around the fighting armies.

For a detailed and lively examination of this famous and complex battle I thoroughly recommend this book.
 
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pierthinker | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Mar 2, 2015 |
An outstanding account of the battle of Trafalgar concentrating, as the subtitle says, on the men, the battle and the storm. What is missing, compared to the usual account is the campaign, the cat-and-mouse game that led to the two fleets being stationed at Cadiz. The authors more than make it up by producing an immersion account of life on board of British and French warships, explaining and describing how the tasks are performed, presenting the men and their background as well as their commanders. The hands-on account of the ship against ship battles show that in the actual encounter the two sides were close to balance. The British won because the French van did not want or manage to turn around in time and engage in battle. The French commander should have chosen a more compact formation, otherwise he isn't really to blame for the defeat.

When the battle is finished, the suffering doesn't stop. In view of an approaching storm that threatens to drive the surviving ships against the coast, the crews frantically try to rescue their ships and prizes. Many of the Spanish and French ships that had survived the battle were destroyed by the storm. Many British prize crews went down too or were taken captive. This aspect of the famous battle deserves to be better known. Highly recommended.½
 
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jcbrunner | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Jan 31, 2013 |
The battle of Trafalgar on Oct 21 , 1805 , off the coast of Spain destroyed the combined French and Spanish fleet and established British supremacy over the world's oceans. A racy account of this historic event as seen by the men who participated in it, on either sides of the battle. An immensely enjoyable read
 
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sumitkumarbardhan | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Jan 4, 2012 |
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