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Waterloo: Four Days That Changed Europe's Destiny

de Tim Clayton

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672401,042 (4.7)1
'The best of the many books commemorating next year's 200th anniversary of Napoleon's final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo' Evening Standard The bloodbath at Waterloo ended a war that had engulfed the world for over twenty years. It also finished the career of the charismatic Napoleon Bonaparte. It ensured the final liberation of Germany and the restoration of the old European monarchies, and it represented one of very few defeats for the glorious French army, most of whose soldiers remained devoted to their Emperor until the very end. Extraordinary though it may seem, much about the Battle of Waterloo has remained uncertain, with many major features of the campaign hotly debated. Most histories have depended heavily on the evidence of British officers that were gathered about twenty years after the battle. But the recent publication of an abundance of fresh first-hand accounts from soldiers of all the participating armies has illuminated important episodes and enabled radical reappraisal of the course of the campaign. What emerges is a darker, muddier story, no longer biased by notions of regimental honour, but a tapestry of irony, accident, courage, horror and human frailty. An epic page turner, rich in dramatic human detail and grounded in first-class scholarly research, Waterloo is the real inside story of the greatest land battle in British history, the defining showdown of the age of muskets, bayonets, cavalry and cannon.… (més)
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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. ( )
  yvlind1 | Oct 7, 2017 |
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. ( )
  pierthinker | Mar 2, 2015 |
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'The best of the many books commemorating next year's 200th anniversary of Napoleon's final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo' Evening Standard The bloodbath at Waterloo ended a war that had engulfed the world for over twenty years. It also finished the career of the charismatic Napoleon Bonaparte. It ensured the final liberation of Germany and the restoration of the old European monarchies, and it represented one of very few defeats for the glorious French army, most of whose soldiers remained devoted to their Emperor until the very end. Extraordinary though it may seem, much about the Battle of Waterloo has remained uncertain, with many major features of the campaign hotly debated. Most histories have depended heavily on the evidence of British officers that were gathered about twenty years after the battle. But the recent publication of an abundance of fresh first-hand accounts from soldiers of all the participating armies has illuminated important episodes and enabled radical reappraisal of the course of the campaign. What emerges is a darker, muddier story, no longer biased by notions of regimental honour, but a tapestry of irony, accident, courage, horror and human frailty. An epic page turner, rich in dramatic human detail and grounded in first-class scholarly research, Waterloo is the real inside story of the greatest land battle in British history, the defining showdown of the age of muskets, bayonets, cavalry and cannon.

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