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Book Reviews

Literature specifically on the subject of 1/72 scale plastic Napoleonic figures is few and far between. However, there are an enormous number of books on the history of the Napoleonic Wars, as well as quite a few on the subject of wargaming. I have listed below (sorted by category) some books I have read which have some relevance to the subject.
 
I am currently reading
"The Flintlock Musket - Brown Bess and Charleville 1715-1865 (Osprey Weapon 44) by Stuart Reid. The review will be posted soon.

Latest review added: Man of War - The Fighting Life of Admiral James Saumarez  

 

French Revolution and Revolutionary Wars

The French Revolutionary Wars by Gregory Fremont-Barnes (Osprey Essential Histories 7)
Napoleon in Egypt by Paul Strathern

 

General Histories of the Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars by Gregory Fremont-Barnes & Todd Fisher (Osprey Essential Histories Specials 4)
Napoleon und die Deutschen by Eckart Kleβmann
Napoleon and his Marshals by A. G. Macdonell
Generals: Ten British Commanders Who Shaped the World by Mark Urban
The Forgotten War Against Napoleon  - Conflict in the Mediterranean 1793-1815
by Gareth Glover

 

The 1805 Campaign - Austerlitz

Austerlitz 1805 - The fate of empires by Ian Castle (Osprey Campaign 101)
1805: Austerlitz by Robert Goetz

 

The 1806 Campaign - Jena & Auerstädt

The Jena Campaign: 1806 by F. N. Maude
Jena 1806 - Napoleon destroys Prussia by David Chandler (Osprey Campaign 20)

 

The 1807 Campaign - Eylau - Friedland

Napoleon's Polish Gamble: Eylau and Friedland 1807 (Campaign Chronicles)  by Christopher Summerville.

 

The Peninsular War

A History of the Peninsular War - Volume VII, August 1813 to April 14 1814 by Sir Charles Oman
Wellington's Army, 1809 - 1814 by Sir Charles Oman
The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes by Mark Urban
Rifles - Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharphooters by Mark Urban
Bayonne and Toulouse 1813-14 - Wellington invades France by Nick Lipscombe (Osprey Campaign 266)

 

The 1809 Campaign - Aspern-Essling - Wagram

Das Kriegsjahr 1809 in Einzeldarstellungen
Aspern - Eine Schlachtdichtung by Karl Bleibtreu

 

The 1812 Campaign - Borodino

Borodino and the War of 1812 by Christopher Duffy
1812 by Adam Zamoyski

 

The 1813 Spring Campaign - Lützen - Bautzen

Lützen & Bautzen 1813 - The Turning Point by Peter Hofschröer (Osprey Campaign 87)

 

The 1813 Autumn Campaign - Leipzig

Leipzig 1813 - The Battle of the Nations by Peter Hofschröer (Osprey Campaign 25)

The 1815 Campaign - Ligny & Quatre Bras - Waterloo & Wavre

Waterloo 1815: Wavre, Plancenoit & the Race to Paris by
Peter Hofschröer

 

Memoirs & Biographies

Memoirs of an Aide-de-Camp of Napoleon 1800-1812 by General Count Philippe de Ségur
Napoleon - The Path to Power 1769-1799 by Philip Dwyer
Napoleon & Wellington by Andrew Roberts

 

Regimental Histories

The Life Guards by R.J.T. Hills

 

Wargaming

 

Modelling

Wellington's Smallest Victory by Peter Hofschröer

 

Osprey New Vanguard

Napoleon's Guns 1792 - 1815 (2) - Heavy and Siege Artillery by René Chartrand

 

Osprey Elite

Napoleonic Light Cavalry Tactics by Philip Haythornthwaite

 

Osprey Men-at-Arms

141 - Napoleon's Line Infantry by Philip Haythornthwaite
153 - Napoleon's Guard Infantry (1) by Philip Haythornthwaite
160 - Napoleon's Guard Infantry (2) by Philip Haythornthwaite
389 - Napoleon's Red Lancers by Ronald Pawly
444 - Napoleon's Mounted Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard by Ronald Pawly
456 - Mounted Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard by Ronald Pawly
496 - The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine 1815 by Peter Hofschröer



Man of War - The Fighting Life of Admiral James Saumarez
Anthony Sullivan
ISBN: 978-1-52670-651-5
James Saumarez' career in the Royal Navy began before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and only came to an end more than a decade after the Napoleonic Wars had ended. From an early stage in that long career, he established a reputation for reliability, excellent seamanship, and a rare trait amongst seamen diplomacy.
In this biography, Anthony Sullivan not only describes the many twists and turns in Saumarez' naval career, but also provides an insight into his family life and relationship with the people of Guernsey, his birthplace. 
The fleet actions in which Saumarez was involved will for the most part already be well known to many readers, for instance the Battle of the Saintes during the American Revolutionary War or the Battles of Cape St. Vincent, the Nile and Algeciras during the French Revolutionary Wars.
Even the action which was arguably represents his finest hour, the capture of the frigate Reunion, is well documented by other authors.
It is more unusual to read details of the daily routine during the blockades of Cadiz and Brest. It might be expected that these periods would simply consist of long weeks of boredom, however, as the author shows, there was actually constant activity, with the ships of the blockading fleet coming and going for refitting or provisioning, and the need to find shelter from or run before the many storms which threatened to destroy even the most robust ships.
As well as conveying this level of detail, the author lends character to the narrative by using the appropriate nautical terms when describing the handling of the ships. Some readers might have found a glossary useful, though.
The book contains only one illustration, a full-length portrait of Saumarez, actually the same illustration used on the dust jacket, though there are also several maps and diagrams which accompany the descriptions of the naval actions.
Illustrations of the ships Saumarez commanded, or the actions in which he participated, would also have been welcome. On the other hand, paintings of naval actions tend to have such large proportions that after reduction to the size of a book page, it is sometimes almost impossible to make out any details.
Unfortunately, this book is let down by the unusually large number of typos. These are mostly not misspellings, but duplicated or missing words, and having to reread these sentences to work out the meaning becomes irritating after a while.
Saumarez' diplomacy when dealing with Sweden and Russia during the Baltic campaign, which eventually led to his receiving a Swedish knighthood, is also well described by the author, and is a good example of the amount of research which has gone into this book.
This biography will take its deserved place alongside biographies of Nelson, Collingwood, St. Vincent and Sidney Smith.



The Forgotten War Against Napoleon - Conflict in the Mediterranean 1793-1815
Gareth Glover
ISBN: 978-1-47383-395-1
The term "Napoleonic Warfare" generally conjures up images of colossal armies executing grand manoeuvres over vast swathes of countryside. Although the perception of Naval Warfare in the same era is likewise of large-scale battles, in this case it involves dozens of line-of-battle ships pounding each other to matchwood. It's fairly rare to encounter illustrations of combined land and sea operations during the Napoleonic era, and it seems that the majority of military history enthusiasts prefer to focus on either one area or the other.
The reality, of course, was that army and naval forces often operated hand-in-hand, though most often only a few thousand troops and a handful of smaller warships or troopships would have been involved. These combined-forces operations occurred especially often in the Mediterranean theatre, where troops could only be moved from one location to another by ship, and also because the complement of marines on the ships often wasn't sufficient to capture and occupy islands or coastal towns without the support of land forces. As the author of this book points out, the necessity for the land forces to interact closely with the navy led to a degree of independence which army commanders rarely, if ever, experienced under Wellington in Spain.
Starting with the French Revolutionary Wars, the author recounts in chronological order the various actions which took place in the Mediterranean until the end of the Napoleonic era, and also includes the campaign against the Barbary pirates in 1816.
For the most part, each incident is covered in a concise manner, without embellishment by superfluous detail. This approach results in bite-sized chunks (the book has 56 chapters in just over 250 pages), where the action flits from location to location, accurately conveying the impression of the forces involved, which were normally overstretched, moving backwards and forwards across the theatre, often in vain, with plans being cancelled due to new developments like changes in the political situation.

The majority of the chapters include accompanying maps of the area under discussion, and there are also eight pages of colour plates.
This book provides a well-researched overview of the numerous actions in the Mediterranean during the period, ranging across Eastern Spain, the South of France, Italy, the Adriatic coastline, North Africa, Egypt, the border regions of the Russian and Ottoman empires.
The reader will be inspired
to study more extensively those conflicts which have been covered in wider detail by other authors, for instance the Siege of Toulon, the French Expedition to Egypt and Syria, the French invasion of Eastern Spain, the Russo-Turkish War and the Battle of Maida. More ambitious readers may even be inspired to research and produce works on the conflicts which have been less well known or documented, like those involving Dalmatia and the Adriatic coast or the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.





Osprey General Military
ISBN: 978-1-47280-589-8
Every once in a while, a book on Waterloo comes along, which stands out from the multitude already available. Of course, the details of the battle and the campaign itself are so well known that very little new information is likely to appear. 
What makes this book unusual is that isn't actually new; in fact it's a facsimile reproduction of a book that was first published only a few months after the battle. As such, it would have been one of the first publications to provide detailed information to an eager public, and one can imagine while reading it the suspense with which those readers would have turned each page.
At the time, this book was so popular that, over the course of the following months, further editions appeared, each of which included new information which had come to light in the meantime; this facsimile version is actually of the seventh edition, and the additional text passages are evident in the mixture of font types and sizes throughout the book, which also adds to the authentic feel. 

The first part of this book is fairly conventional, containing a relatively short description of the campaign, as well as numerous eyewitness accounts. In fact, the highlight of this part is not the text, but a fold-out 360 degree panorama of the battlefield (although not showing the actual battle). Fold-out plans of the battle and of the campaign are also included in this part.
The third part of the book is also relatively typical, listing the British officers killed and wounded, the number of British and Hanoverian (i.e. KGL) losses by regiment, as well as a brief biography of the Duke of Wellington, but also containing a list of promotions and decorations awarded after the campaign, biographical notes on the senior officers and other notable personages killed during the campaign, as well as the text of a couple of commemorative inscriptions from the church in Waterloo.
The second part of the book starts with several official reports on the battle by the various nationalities involved, including Dutch, Prussian and Hanoverian, as well as from those that had observers in the allied camp, like Spain, Russia and Austria. These reports are interesting enough, however it's the rest of this second part of the book which really makes the book worthwhile.
The way in which this book evolved, by adding any information which came to hand, has resulted in a treasure trove of miscellany, such as a letter from Earl Bathurst to the Lords of the Admiralty containing instructions on how "General Bonaparte" should be treated while in their care, a letter from Davout, then Minister for War, to Wellington and Blücher, informing them of Napoleon's abdication, a letter from Wellington to Bathurst, announcing the surrender of Paris and enclosing the text of the Convention of St. Cloud, Ney's campaign report to Fouché, and many other gems.
For these alone, the book is worth having, and the unexpected nature of these random additions is an added bonus.



Jacqueline Reiter
ISBN: 978-1-47385-695-0
To produce a biography of one of history’s peripheral figures requires detective work as much as writing talent. In the case of John Pitt, the biographer has to deal with an extra dimension of complexity. The challenge is to provide an objective portrait of someone, who, as the son of William Pitt the Elder and older brother of William Pitt the Younger, found his life constantly overshadowed by, and unfavourably compared to, his more renowned relatives.
Jacqueline Reiter has succeeded in combining the detective work, the objectivity and the writing talent, in the process creating a book which is as remarkable for its attention to detail as for its impartiality.
While agreeing that Chatham’s career was constrained by the success of his relatives, the author also recognises his shortcomings – or at the very least, lack of inspiration – especially in the political positions he held, such as First Lord of the Admiralty and Master-General of the Ordnance.
An early example of the detrimental effect of his father’s standing on John Pitt’s career occurred when he was serving as a young ADC in Quebec at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Rather than serve against the Colonies, he was forced by family pressure to return to England, in order not to compromise his father’s political career, as Pitt the Elder had outspokenly supported American independence.
His brother William’s political prominence also negatively influenced Chatham’s career. Although Chatham acquitted himself well as a brigade commander in the Anglo-Russian expedition to the Helder in 1799, he was wounded in the process. Afterwards, he was kept from active service, because in case of his death, his brother William would have succeeded to the earldom, and been required to take up the family seat in the House of Lords.
It was only after William’s death that Chatham was considered again to serve overseas. As commander of the disastrous Walcheren expedition, though, he was apportioned the majority of the blame, effectively putting an end to both his military and his political career. In fact, the finger of blame was only pointed in Chatham’s direction after he attempted to highlight the navy’s failure to complete their role of the mission, which has contributed as much to the failure of the expedition as bad planning on the part of the War Office. While pointing out the injustice of the inquiry’s conclusions, the author doesn’t try to conceal the fact that a more experienced or even more enterprising commander might have made more of the situation, rather than floundering once the original plan started to go awry. Of course, if it hadn’t been for his family, Chatham might have had the military experience to deal with the changed circumstances.
Chatham’s personal life is also described in some detail. A recurring theme over several decades was his wife’s struggle with mental illness. His personal and professional relationship with his brother William, as well as his money woes are also recounted.
In addition to being well written, this book is meticulously researched. One example is that the author consulted the logbooks of the ships which took Chatham to and from Gibraltar, where he served as Governor, and quote details like the time Chatham arrived on board, and the duration of the journey. While not essential to the biography, this type of detail adds atmosphere to the narrative.
One point of note is that in the first chapter, the author refers to John Pitt as “Pitt” (due to his courtesy title at the time being Viscount Pitt), and refers to his father, as was the custom at the time, as “Chatham” (being the First Earl of Chatham). After his father died, John Pitt became Second Earl of Chatham, so for the rest of the book, the author refers to him as “Chatham”, and refers to William Pitt (the Younger) as “Pitt”.
The book includes 3 maps – of the Helder, Walcheren and Gibraltar regions –, 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations, an index, an extensive bibliography, and copious source notes.
Although Chatham’s army service is discussed, the expeditions in which he participated are not examined at the level of detail of a purely military history. The political events are related in much more depth, and the book provides a very interesting portrayal of the politics and politicians, as well as the British nobility, during the latter part of the Georgian era.



Edward Ryan
ISBN: 978-1-84832-841-9
A note from the author, included in the Index of Names of Persons at the back of this book, states that he hasn’t attempted to index the names Napoleon and Daumesnil because the book is essentially about the two of them. Certainly, the relationship between these two men is the main theme of the book, but to say that it’s restricted to that single topic would be to do both the author and the book an injustice.
Pierre Daumesnil served close to Napoleon in all of his campaigns from Italy in 1797 up until Wagram, however Daumesnil’s military career spanned a much wider period, from the Revolutionary Wars via the Consulate, the Empire, the First Restoration, the Hundred Days and the Second Restoration to the July Monarchy.
In fact, the chapters of the book describing the period when Daumesnil served in closest proximity to Napoleon are probably the least enlightening, simply because Napoleon’s movements and actions have already been studied and documented in minute detail by so many other authors. In order to recount Daumesnil’s biography, it was of course necessary to recap the background to these campaigns, even though most readers will already be familiar with them to some extent. The author has at least only described those battles where the Chasseurs à Cheval de la Garde were present.
The chapter which describes Daumesnil’s service in the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees between 1793 and 1795 covers a period less well known to many military history devotees. Similarly, the blockades of Vincennes in 1814 and 1815 after the occupation of Paris by the Allies, and the events that really brought Daumesnil to the attention of the general public, occurred during periods which have been relatively neglected by historians. The paranoia among the Bourbon followers about possible conspiracies by Napoleonic supporters, which lasted for many years after the second restoration, is an interesting topic touched on in the book, as is the July Revolution.
Writing a biography of someone that neither wrote their memoirs nor kept a diary would be very difficult, but luckily Daumesnil’s wife kept a journal, and many anecdotes about Daumesnil’s exploits during this epoch have also appeared in other memoirs. In addition, the author acknowledges the collaboration of Henri de Clairval, a direct descendant of Daumesnil, who himself wrote a French-language biography of his famous ancestor.
The book includes several annexes:
A. Daumesnil’s Service Record
B. Bonaparte’s Proclamation to the Army of Italy
(the proclamation of May 1796 following the conclusion with Sardinia of the Armistice of Cherasco)
C: Convention of Paris
(usually known as the Convention of St. Cloud, the military convention under which the French Army evacuated its forces from Paris in July 1815)
D: Blücher vs. Wellington re Napoleon’s Fate
(several letters sent between 27 and 29 June 1815, from Gneisenau, Blücher’s Chief of Staff, to Müffling, principal liaison officer at Wellington’s headquarters, instructing von Müffling to use his influence with the British to have Napoleon handed over to the Prussians)
E: The “Address” of 23 March 1815
(a text written by Daumesnil, then commander of the fortified town of Condé sur l’Escaut, addressed to the Emperor on behalf of the officers and men of the 42nd Line Infantry Regiment, who were garrisoning Condé at the time).
In addition to the Index of Names of Persons already mentioned, the book includes a Bibliography, 8 colour plates, 16 pages of black and white illustrations and, unusually, two pages of Notes on the Illustrations, where the author provides additional comments on the illustrations.
The book is generally well researched, although there are some minor factual errors (e.g. the author dates the Battle of the Nile as 31st July 1798, whereas it took place on 1st August; there are several references to the Battle of “Heilsburg” in 1807, whereas the correct spelling is “Heilsberg”).
As mentioned, despite its title and despite Daumesnil’s devotion to Napoleon, the best reason to buy this book is for the many interesting details in the passages which take place when the two men aren’t in close proximity to each other. The author is to be commended for avoiding the temptation to simply rehash previously available material under a different viewpoint, instead providing the reader with fresh or at least less well known information on the period and some of the people that helped to shape it.



Osprey Elite 196
Philip Haythornthwaite
ISBN: 978-1-78096-102-6
Following on from the volume on Heavy Cavalry Tactics, this book presents the tactics used by hussars, chasseurs, light dragoons and lancers, as well as, more briefly, Mamelukes and Cossacks.
Before discussing their tactics, the author traces the development of light cavalry in the century prior to the Napoleonic era, explaining why the need for a light horseman arose, and how various nations responded to this need.
Since the organisation of heavy and light cavalry squadrons was very similar during the Napoleonic era, the author refers the reader to the book on heavy cavalry rather than repeating the information here.
As usual for this series, there are several plates and illustrations explaining how light cavalry deployed, how it redeployed between various formations, and describing the tactics used in different combat situations.
In contrast to heavy cavalry, light cavalry was employed in many tasks beyond those of the battlefield, for instance reconnaissance, outposts, vedettes and skirmishing, and the author discusses these tasks in some detail.
In addition to the full-page plates already mentioned, the book includes numerous colour and black-and-white illustrations which have been suitably chosen to show the many uses of light cavalry.
A Select Bibliography, Source Notes and an Index complete this well-researched and concisely-written addition to the “Tactics” volumes of Osprey’s Elite series.



Paul Britten Austin
ISBN: 978-1-84832-834-1
Considering the enormous amount of attention the Waterloo campaign has received in print, it's surprising that the events preceding the campaign have been practically ignored by English-language authors.
Military historians may be deterred by the fact that Napoleon's return to power was a practically bloodless affair, however it certainly wasn't without drama, as shown by Paul Britten Austin in this well-written work, reissued under the Frontline Books imprint.
From the first day of the "adventure", where the situation at Antibes threatened to degenerate into farce, to the arduous trek through the mountains to Grenoble, to the march on Paris in the face of the royalist army's attempt to concentrate in defence of the capital, the outcome was far from a foregone conclusion.  
The first chapter describes the landing at Antibes, however this isn't where the story begins, and so the second chapter describes Napoleon's time on Elba in a type of flashback style. The reasons for the return to France, the decision to do so and the subsequent preparations are described in some detail.
The narrative is written in the present tense, which is unusual, however this adds an extra dynamic to the account. What takes more getting used to, though, is that the author places himself, as narrator, in the timeframe of the story, so that events which had taken place recently to the narrative are referred to as having occurred e.g. "yesterday", "last week", etc.
The author uses only eyewitness accounts of the events. Many of these eyewitnesses were also sources for the author's 1812 trilogy, so anyone that has already read those books will recognise many of the names. There are also many accounts by ordinary citizens along the route, not just the soldiers and politicians involved. 
Of course, Ney's defection is the best known, but practically every soldier and politician in France was faced with the same dilemma. The decisions and actions at the court of Louis XVIII, as well as of the main  military and political leaders are discussed by the author, especially in the case of Oudinot, Fouché, Macdonald and Marmont. However there are also numerous accounts from lesser-known individuals such as Lieutenant Rilliet of the Cuirassiers of Louis XVIII's Guard and Count Lavalette, the retired Postmaster General.
Ney's intention to carry out the King's orders, and his anguish over the decision to follow his troops' wish to desert to the "usurper" are recounted, making good use of Ney's testimony from his trial after the second restoration.   
The book is very well researched, as witnessed by the extensive notes, and also well written. This version is a high quality hardback with dust cover and includes five maps and twenty-seven black-and-white illustrations.



Osprey Campaign 87
Peter Hofschröer
ISBN: 978-1855329942
In this volume of the Campaign series, Hofschröer puts forward the argument that even though the Russian campaign had ended disastrously, at the beginning of 1813 French control of central Europe was unbroken. It was only by continuing the struggle, forming a new coalition with Prussia, that the momentum of 1812 was sustained. Had Napoleon managed to check the Allies' advance, driven the Russians back to their border and defeated the Prussians, then it is unlikely that Austria would have taken up arms against France in the Autumn of 1813. 
There are many events which have been labelled as the turning point in the struggle against Napoleon - Dupont's surrender at Bailén, the Battle of Aspern-Essling, the retreat from Moscow and the Battle of Leipzig, to name just a few. The claim for L
ützen and Bautzen is based on the fact that the Prussian and Russian forces were able to force an armistice rather than ending the campaign in defeat. After the armistice had ended, the coalition forces were joined by the Austrians, tipping the balance in the favour of the Allies and effectively ending Napoleon's chances of holding the German territiries.
The manouvres up to the battles, as well as the battles themselves, are described in detail, accompanied by maps of the manoeuvres leading up to and in the aftermath of the battles, as well as by 3-D maps of the battlefields.
This book faithfully follows the formula for Campaign volumes: an introduction discussing the background to the campaign, a chronology of the campaign, a section on the opposing armies and commanders, a section on the battles themselves, a discussion of the aftermath, and a (brief) section on the battlefields today.
The text is accompanied by numerous black-and white and colour illustrations, including portraits of the opposing commanders, as well as an index, a - very short - bibliography, orders of battle for both battles, and some black-and-white photographs illustrating key areas of the battlefield today.



The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine 1815
Osprey Men At Arms 496
Peter Hofschröer
ISBN: 978-1782006176
I have to admit I'm amazed that the title of this book isn't "Blücher's Army at Waterloo" or something similar, as such keywords seem to be almost compulsory these days for books on the Napoleonic period. Instead, it has been given a more sober and businesslike title, for which the author and/or series editor deserve praise. This no-nonsense approach is generally also followed in the book itself.
As usual for a Men at Arms title, the organisation, uniforms, tactics and combat history of the troops are described, however as the author has already written a number of other books on the Prussian Army of this period, he refers the reader to those titles for the basic information rather than simply rehashing it here.
Instead of describing the regulation uniform, he therefore concentrates on the variations from that regulation. These variations were principally due to financial and logistic problems rather than intentional disobedience of the regulations. Even so, the sheer amount of information requires the font used in this section of the book to be smaller than normal.

The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine is probably the most famous Prussian Army of the Napoleonic Wars - the Prussian Army of Ligny, Wavre, Waterloo and the advance on Paris - even though the Army's offical title is not as well known as its feats. As well as the Army of the Lower Rhine, this book covers the North German Federal Army Corps, as that Corps also came under Blücher's command when its commander, Kleist von Nollendorf, fell ill in June. On the subject of Blücher, Hofschröer leaves the reader in no doubt that he considers him to have merely been a figurehead for the army, and that command was effectively in the hands of his chief of staff, Neidhardt von Gneisenau.
The book includes an order of battle for the Army of the Lower Rhine at Waterloo and Wavre as well as for the North German Federal Army Corps. In addition, there are eight colour uniform plates and numerous black and white illustrations, mostly of uniforms, but also several illustrations of the Prussian commanders. Some maps of the campaign and the battles are included; one of these is actually a plan showing the original troop dispositions on Siborne's Large Waterloo Model.
Prussian tactics at brigade level are described first in theory and then in practice, taking as examples the actual dispositions of two brigades at Ligny.
The army's combat history is described in considerable detail. In fact the description of the army's troop movements leading up to and at Ligny, Waterloo and Wavre is practically a mini "Campaign" title in itself.
Hofschröer has always been very vocal in promoting the Prussian Army's contribution to the Waterloo campaign, which in his opinion to this day remains underrated. In fact, in the last couple of decades this situation has largely been redressed - at least among historians; it's doubtful whether the english-speaking general public will ever be persuaded that Waterloo wasn't just a showdown between Wellington and Napoleon.
In any case, the use of phrases such as "played the major role in the defeat of Napoleon", "decided the outcome of Waterloo", "the decisive action of the battle - the capture of Plancenoit", and especially "Anglophone mythology" are more likely to be detrimental than beneficial to the author
's cause.
On the other hand, it is this passion for the subject, this intimate knowledge of the Prussian Army's organisation, strategy, tactics, uniforms and leadership which makes this book not just very readable, but also enormously informative.

 
 

- Wellington invades France -
Osprey Campaign 266
Nick Lipscombe
ISBN: 978-1472802774
The French Army of Spain which Marshal Soult inherited from Jourdan and Joseph following the debacle at Vitoria was a force in disarray. Outnumbered, demoralised and on the verge of disintegration, it nevertheless rallied under its new commander, regaining sufficient cohesion to effect a fighting retreat, with Soult even switching to the offensive whenever the opportunity arose.
Eventually, though, Wellington's forces drove the French back across the Pyrenees into southern France, and started a slow, steady advance northwards. This advance was brought to a premature halt by the armistice which followed news of Napoleon’s abdication. The news took some days to reach Soult's forces, so a number of actions actually took place after the abdication.
This book covers the last phase of the Peninsular War, from the aftermath of Vitoria up until the armistice, describing not just the combats which took place, but also the movements of both sides as Soult and Wellington attempted to outmanoeuvre each other, the former attempting to stem the allied advance, the latter to outflank his opponent and force him to continue his withdrawal.
In the author's note at the front of the book, Lipscombe remarks that he found it difficult to condense the description of the campaign into the short amount of space available. However, he has managed to do this effectively enough to convey to the reader in a clear, well-written manner the overall picture of the campaign.
The overall result is a very good book, which when it takes its place among the other Peninsular War titles in the Osprey Campaign series provides a fitting conclusion to those volumes.
Lipscombe is an expert on the Peninsular War, so the historical information, though condensed, has retained its accuracy. For those who would like more detail on the campaign than mentioned in the book, a list of recommended titles for further reading is provided.
As usually with the Osprey Campaign series, the text is accompanied by an enormous amount of visual material: 2D and 3D maps, colour illustrations, specially-commissioned colour plates, black and white illustrations, as well as colour photos of the battlefields today. The many photos of the present day (I counted forty-one) will be especially useful for anyone who wishes to personally follow the course of the campaign.
Again in keeping with the Campaign series, this book includes a chronology, an index and orders of battle for the Allied and French armies for July/August 1813 and for the Battle of Toulouse.
Generally, the picture captions provide additional information rather than just rehashing the text which the pictures accompany, however a paragraph from Napier which is quoted in the text, taking up about a third of a page, is repeated in full in the caption to one of the colour plates. In addition, the third page of the chronology is blank except for five lines of text. In total, therefore, one further full page of text could have easily been accommodated.
A study such as this, which describes convoluted movements of bodies of troops, must be very difficult to proof read, however I didn't notice any really glaring mistakes. There are a few typos and minor grammatical errors, and in one case, East and West are mixed up. There are also a couple of instances of inconsistent spelling of place names, however only the most pedantic reader will find these minor points irritating.
One very positive point is that in the section on the opposing commanders, rather than just trotting out the usual stock portraits of the participants, lesser known portraits are used.
I was, however, surprised to see the author acclaim Wellington’s expertise in interweaving all branches of the army, even though Lipscombe himself has recently authored a book describing the fraught relationship between Wellington and the artillery commanders.
One of my pet gripes with Osprey's Campaign series is that the titles are named after the climactic battle, even though they actually cover the complete campaign. The battle which lends its name to the book's title thus often receives relatively few pages of attention. In the case of this book, the investment of Bayonne and the Battle of Toulouse took place in February and April 1814 respectively, though the book’s title mentions them together with the years 1813 and 1814. They were also not climactic events in the normal sense, as they of themselves didn't end the campaign, though of course the presence of the allied troops in southern France obviously contributed to the general demoralised state of the French nation. I would certainly rate the Battles of Nivelle and the Nive as at least equally important as Bayonne and Toulouse, and thus equally worthy of mention in the book’s title.
Devotees of Napoleonic history tend to gravitate towards one of two main camps, the “Napoleon camp” or the “Wellington camp”. This is not to suggest that there is a bias in the recounting of history, but there are definitely authors and readers whose main area of interest is the campaigns and battles in which Napoleon was involved, and others whose main area of interest is the campaigns and battles in which Wellington participated. Of course, it's not quite a case of "never the twain shall meet" - Waterloo saw to that - however there is a definite schism among devotees of Napoleonic military history.
This volume will not interest the “Napoleon camp” much - there isn’t a single picture of Napoleon in the book! Also, they would probably take issue with the author’s reference to Vandamme's surrender at Kulm (in fact, at Kulm Vandamme managed to extract the majority of his troops from a desperate situation, though he was captured in the process).
In contrast, the “Wellington camp” is well served here, especially since within that camp, the Peninsular War is by far the greatest area of interest. Although this volume will please those aficionados, it may also cause some regret, as the Peninsular War is brought to a close.
As mentioned, this volume is a worthy addition to the previous Peninsular War titles in the Campaign series. The books in that series are worth buying just for the wealth of pictures, maps, etc. which accompany the text. I would go so far as to say that the visual presentation in this volume is above average for the series, and together with the well-written description of events, results in an investment worth every penny.

Mark Urban
ISBN: 978-0571216819
One of my criticisms of Urban's earlier offering The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes was that much of that book was padded out with a rehash of the history of the Peninsular War, including various battles and sieges in which the subject, George Scovell, didn't even participate.
In contrast,"Rifles" covers only those events in which the 1/95th actually took part. In fact, the other two battalions of the regiment only merit a mention if they took part in the same action as the first battalion.
In the process of recounting the first battalion's story, the author also relates the experiences of a handful of men from this battalion: officers, NCOs and privates, some of whom were wounded or killed during the war. Many quotes from previously published first-hand accounts are used, some of which, like Harris, Costello and Kincaid, are already quite well known.

Though the majority of the book deals with the Peninsular war, Urban devotes one chapter to the Waterloo campaign. However the description of 1/95th's participation in the battle ends abruptly on the 95th's withdrawal from the Sandpit.
The book includes 16 pages of colour plates. Some of the plates are reproductions of antique maps of the actions described in the text. However, the maps are so small that it's virtually impossible to make out the relevant details.
This book is very well written; the descriptions of the loading and firing process are very useful, as are the explanations of the Rifles' battle tactics and the plate showing the various firing positions. All in all, a book well worth the read.

 

 

Karl Bleibtreu
No ISBN number
As this is an original edition from 1902, there is no ISBN number. I have however seen facsimile editions available online, but have no idea whether these are good quality reproductions. It's worth mentioning that the original is in "Fraktur" script (old-style German script), so the facsimile editions may well also be in Fraktur.
The author, Karl Bleibtreu ,was the son of Georg Bleibtreu, an accomplished painter of historical battle scenes during the second half of the nineteenth century. Karl's historical works bear similarities to his father's paintings, in that they attempt to capture not just the facts but also the atmosphere of the battles, employing a literary style which mimics the grand sweep of an artist's brush.
This book is something between a straightforward history and a novel. It relates the story of the battle in a dramatic fashion: - while the events themselves are accurately recorded, they are interspersed with fictitious conversations between various characters at the scene. As each character enters the story, their appearance is described, including minute details of the uniform worn. 
On occasion the author interrupts the "story" to provide background information on the characters or events mentioned in the narrative. The text in these sections is slightly smaller than that of the narrative; the resulting effect is similar to the use of sidebars today.
The text is accompanied by a number of black-and-white illustrations by Eduard Thoeny. These illustrations have no captions, but are obviously meant to represent events described in the text.
Although purists will avoid this book because it mixes fact and fiction, the author's approach helps to give a better understanding of the battle, by placing the reader in the midst of the action at the villages of Aspern and Essling as well as at Napoleon's field headquarters near the brick kilns.
For the non-purists, who are prepared to take the trouble to work through the Fraktal script, the book is a rewarding contrast to the purely factual accounts of the battle which abound in various languages. Unfortunately Bleibtreu's technique has not been widely adopted; although there is no shortage of historical novels based on the Napoleonic era, the focus of these novels is always fictional characters. Bleibtreu's achievement lies in isolating in the reader's mind the factual events from the fictional dialogue.  

 

Mark Urban
ISBN: 978-0571224876
This book discusses the influence of various British military leaders (the "generals" of the title; in fact in many cases they were higher-ranked) on the evolution of military strategy or organisation over the last few centuries. Each general's story is allotted roughly thirty pages, which as can be imagined is only sufficient to outline their careers and the military background of the period.
Each chapter starts with an anecdote from the earlier life of the general under discussion, either a lesson learned or an early indication of the individual's talent. It then describes in more detail the main achievement for which the individual is included in the book, and finally a brief summing up of that contribution.
In the case of the first of the two generals from the Napoleonic era - Prince Frederick, the Duke of York - the reader first encounters him choreographing the servants of Kew House in recreations of battles from the Seven Years War. His main achievement is the reform and reorganisation of the British army after the failure of the Flanders Campaign. 
Of course the other Napoleonic-era general is Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, whose story begins with an account the battle of Assaye. Wellington's contribution follows on from that of the Duke of York, in that his masterful use of the newly reformed and reorganised British Army earned it a reputation for professionalism which still exists two centuries later.
The relevant illustrations are Hoppner's portrait of the Duke of York in the uniform of Colonel of the Coldstream Guards and Lawrence's well-known portrait of the Duke of Wellington in 1814, as well as a painting showing Horse Guards - the headquarter of the British Army at the time - and a painting of the Battle of Waterloo. The relevant maps are of the Duke of York's Battleground 1793 to 1799 (i.e. the area of the French fortresses in Northern France and the allied fortresses in the Austrian Netherlands), as well as of the Battles of Assaye, Bussaco, Salamanca and Waterloo.
Readers who have already studied a particular era will not find much or any new information in this book. However, those interested in general (no pun intended) military history will find this book worth reading; it may eveninspire some readers to study in more detail one or other of the periods discussed.
 

 

Sir Charles Oman
ISBN: 978-1853676178
For general comments about this series, see the review of Volume VII.
This volume is subtitled "Ocaña, Cadiz, Bussaco, Torres Vedras", which will indicate to those with some previous knowledge of the Peninsular War that it includes Masséna's advance into Portugal and Wellington's withdrawal to the lines of Torres Vedras. The greater part of the period covered was actually taken up by the preliminaries to the French campaign. Even though, when the campaign eventually began in earnest, the British withdrawal was rapid, the subsequent French retreat from Torres Vedras marked the turning point in the conflict. As Oman states in the preface, "the retreat that began at Sobral on the night of Nov. 14, 1810, was to end at Toulouse on April 11, 1814."
As usual, Oman also discusses the other areas of conflict within the Peninsula, not just those under Wellington's direct control. Soult's conquest of Andalusia, the entrenchment of the remnants of the Spanish armies within Cadiz as well as  Suchet's and Augereau's operations in Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia are all described in detail.  
The book includes 15 appendices, most of which give the order of battle and casualty figures for the larger actions. Most interesting. though, is Appendix XI, which reproduces Masséna's orders for Bussaco (in French). There are 15 maps and plans of the region or battle under discussion in the text, as well as five black and white illustrations - portraits of Wellington and Masséna, plates showing uniforms of Spanish Infantry in 1808 and 1810, as well as photographs of coins used in the Peninsula between 1808 and 1814. 

 

Andrew Roberts
ISBN: 978-1842127407
In some online shops, this book is subtitled "The Long Duel" , though I find no reference to a subtitle in this edition. It actually makes a good summary of the author's main theme, namely that the lives of the two protagonists were intertwined, and that the "relationship" which developed was more than just military rivalry; it was a personal duel between two titans who were too similar for their own comfort.
In the introduction, Roberts explains that where other biographers have emphasised the differences between the two men, his research has shown that they had more in common than usually supposed. However, some of his arguments in support of this theory. like the fact that they were both born in 1769 , or that "Wellington's brother married Napoleon's brother's ex-wife's sister-in-law", are a bit flimsy. 
The book explores the formative years as well as the military careers of both men, drawing parallels along the way, comparing their statements about each other, and showing how the relationship evolved over the years, and continued after the war had ended.
Although the book is written in a fluent style, it is marred by an unusual amount of factual errors. Some of these may just be typos - e.g. "General Humbert's 1799 invasion attempt of Ireland", which actually took place in 1798 - but there are many others which are simply incorrect.
For instance, Napoleon's Mameluke servant is named as "Roustam Ali", whereas Roustam Raza and Ali were in fact two distinct servants. The French Minister of War is referred to as "Marshal Clarke", although he wasn't made a Marshal until 1816. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is named as "Marshal Maret", though the minister in question, Hugues-Bernard Maret, never became a Marshal. (France did once have a Marshal named Maret - in fact des Marets - but he died in 1762, before Napoleon was even born).
There is a statement that Bavarian Field Marshal Wrede served under Napoleon from 1805 until 1813, fighting at Eylau, Friedland, Marengo and in the Russian campaign. Not only did the Battle of Marengo took place in 1800 (so not within the time frame mentioned), but Wrede fought against the French at Hohenlinden later that year. I also find no record in other works of Wrede being present at either Eylau or Friedland.
Instances of chronological confusion are also present. It is stated that the opera singer, Guiseppina Grassini, with whom it is widely accepted that Napoleon had an affair, herself at the time had a relationship with the violinist Pierre Rode, and that Rode was "nervous of the Corsican emperor" finding out. However the next sentence mentions that this happened in 1801, at which time Napoleon was still only First Consul. Writing of the Spanish campaign, the author states that Napoleon campaigned in Spain from 5th November 1808 to 24th January 1809, but later in the same page, he states that Napoleon arrived back in Paris at 8 am on 23rd January 1809.
There are quite a few other errors, but to be honest, I didn't feel like rereading the book just so that I could list them all. Also, these are only the glaring examples, I did not check every fact in the book for correctness; unfortunately apparently neither did the author .
As mentioned, the style of writing is generally good, although not only does Roberts manage to sneak in the word "oleaginous" - see my comments on this uncommon adjective in the review of The Man who broke Napoleon's Codes - but he goes one further, employing the word "tergiversations", the use of which I can only interpret as disdain for the ordinary reader.
In the conclusion, Roberts notes that it is possible for anyone to take a selection of quotes from or about Napoleon and Wellington and use them to support their own theory about these individuals. Though he is actually referring to historians that emphasise the differences between the two men, rather than their similarities, this argument is a double-edged sword, and it could as easily be applied to the author's own theory.
In the end, this book is an interesting collection of quotes by Napoleon and Wellington about each other, but fails to convincingly prove that a fateful attractive force existed between the protagonists. 
The book includes 16 plates of illustrations and portraits, many in colour It also includes a "comparative chronology" of the lives of the two leading characters, as well as three maps: for the Peninsular War, the Waterloo campaign and of the Battle of Waterloo.

 

Mark Urban
ISBN: 978-0571205387
The subject of this book is George Scovell, a captain on Wellington's peninsular staff. As Wellington's headquarters did not have a dedicated cryptology section,  various staff officers tried their hand at decrypting captured French messages. They initially experienced some success, because the French army's method of encryption was quite primitive. However, the complexity of French ciphers increased significantly as the war dragged on, so that eventually only one officer - Scovell - was prepared to spend time trying to piece together the puzzle, with the aid of several captured messages. Though the inexperience of the French officers using the "Grande Chiffre" - the most complicated cipher used in the Peninsula -  helped Scovell in solving a large part of the puzzle, his stubbornness in continuing the seemingly hopeless task was the main reason for his eventual success. 
Although the author hints that Scovell played a large part in the defeat of the French, he also implies that Scovell received no thanks or recognition for this service. However, Scovell did rise through the ranks, from captain in 1809 to lieutenant-colonel in 1815, so he can hardly be considered to have been ignored or overlooked.
Scovell was not a shadowy figure flitting around in the dark, but a full-time army officer, serving as Assistant Deputy Quartermaster General. As such, he had many regular duties, and in addition received the task of organising a troop of local scouts to perform reconnaissance and provide local information, as well as to intercept enemy dispatches.
Despite the title of the book, it was ciphers and not codes which were used to encrypt and decrypt the messages. Urban explains in the foreword that using the word "codes" rather than "ciphers" in the title was a concession to the publisher, in order to attract a broader readership. The difference between a code and a cipher is not actually explained, but this is not actually relevant to the story. 
Urban also explains in the foreword that he decided to write the book in the style of a story, rather than as a straightforward history book. Unfortunately for the reader, it seems that Scovell's journals did not provide enough personal information to enable the author to bring the story to life.
The book doesn't cover the Peninsular War in its entirety - the author omitted the year 1810, stating that it was of no great importance to his story - although he left in other years where Scovell barely gets a mention in the narrative apart from a remark that one of his friends was in the thick of the fighting, or that he himself would likely have been part of the staff at the particular action.
The Waterloo campaign is covered briefly in the book, though at this stage Scovell was no longer involved in decryption activity. Nevertheless, some of the most interesting passages of the book are to be found here. For instance, the account of the fatal wounding of William De Lancey: Scovell was apparently the first officer to reach the stricken Deputy Quartermaster General, and later organised for Lady De Lancey to visit her husband before his demise. (This last detail is confirmed by Lady De Lancey in her book "A Week at Waterloo in 1815", which was published in 1906, though most accounts of De Lancey's wounding claim Wellington was by his side at the time). The book also has Scovell propping up Fitzroy Somerset while the Military Secretary's right arm was amputated after the battle. I could find no other source to either support or contradict this claim.
Although he had decided to make the book accessible to a non-academic readership, Urban occasionally uses words like "oleaginous", which are really best reserved for dictionaries or scrabble games. Many basic concepts of Napoleonic warfare are explained, in the text though this will be superfluous for those who already have some knowledge of the period.
The book contains a number of colour and black-and-white plates, mostly portraits of the commanders involved and various battle scenes. It also includes a rarity in books on Napoleonic history - a photograph of the person under discussion - though of course this was taken later in Scovell's life. Even so, it is nice to have an impression of the man whose deeds are being portrayed. There is one colour photo of a section of the Grande Chiffre, but no photos of Scovell's journals, which would also have been worthy of inclusion. Several maps of the peninsula and of  battles described in the text are also included.
Urban mentions that the inspiration to write the book came from an appendix to Volume 5 of Oman's History of the Peninsula War. In that appendix, Oman explained how the French cipher was used and how it was possible for Scovell to decrypt the messages. In his explanation, Oman showed how the enciphered text related to the original "plain text" message. As Oman reproduced the message in the original French, the enciphering and decryption process is simple to follow. In Urban's book however, the decrypted messages are presented in English, which results in some inconsistencies between the enciphered and plain text messages, simply due to the differences in French and English sentence structure. It would have been preferable if Urban had followed Oman's lead and presented the original message in French; an English translation could then have been added for clarity. (As an aside, it's interesting to note that Oman included many sentences in French in his works, without any translation; he seems to have assumed that an educated reader would also understand French). 
In conclusion, though this book had plenty of promise and is written in a style which flows well, it fails to deliver on a number of levels. As a biography of Scovell, there is simply a shortage of facts in the book. As a concise history of the Peninsular War, it is incomplete, covering only certain parts of the conflict. Finally, as an explanation of the breaking of the cipher, it fails to explain the process in a simple way, barely providing more information than Oman's brief appendix.   

 

Osprey Men-At-Arms 456
Ronald Pawly
ISBN: 978-1-84603-449-7
Whereas the Chasseurs à Cheval were specifically raised to be part of Napoleon's Guard, the Mounted Grenadiers originally belonged to the guard of the Directory. Since the pre-consulate history is also covered by this book, the title deviates from the usual "Napoleon's ....". 
The Grenadiers were of course incorporated into the Consular Guard, and later the Imperial Guard, and saw service in all major campaigns of the empire. However, the author has thankfully avoided a simple retelling of the campaigns, concentrating instead on the unit's history and organisation during the period.
Another positive point is that in addition to the uniform plates, the other illustrations focus more on uniforms than is often the case in the MAA series.
As with the volume on the Chasseurs à Cheval, this volume includes the Grenadiers à Cheval officers' roll for 1813, listing all officers by name as well as the degree of the Legion of Honour which they had attained. The list of decorations compares favourably with that of the Chasseurs.  
Following the usual Osprey formula, the book includes 8 colour plates, many black-and-white illustrations and an index. The colour plates, by Patrice Courcelle are to his usual excellent standard. Overall, this is a very useful book, well researched, written and presented.

 

Philip Dwyer
ISBN: 978-0747566779
Although no period of Napoleon's life has been completely neglected by historians, the years prior to his assumption of power are sparsely covered in comparison with the time of the empire. By deciding to split his biography into two volumes, Philip Dwyer has ensured that this first volume will come to be regarded as a classic on the subject. In fact, it's doubtful if the second volume will be as illuminating, precisely because the later period has already been so comprehensively studied.
The author’s main theme is that Napoleon consciously crafted his own legend as he progressed through life, through a masterful exploitation – or manipulation – of the media of the time. Many events in the Napoleonic legend are seen in a very different light on closer inspection or from the viewpoint of other eyewitnesses. Dwyer has drawn on many contemporary accounts, though as some of these were written in hindsight, a certain amount of scepticism should also be practised when consulting them – the memoirs of the duchess D’Abrantès for instance are not renowned for their objectivity.
The book is divided into five sections. It's notable that the first section covers the longest period of time (the first 23 years of Napoleon's life), and that each successive section covers a decreasing duration (the fifth section covers only one year - 1799). This obviously reflects both the respective amount of reference material available for these periods, as well as the pace of events within each period.
This first volume ends not at the start of the empire, as one might expect, but at the establishment of the Consulate. In fact, this is not as arbitrary a date as it might first seem, as the coup of 18 Brumaire marked Napoleon's transition from a "mere" soldier to a statesman, the culmination of the path to power of the book's title.
Dywer is not a military historian, and although the earlier campaigns are covered in a lot of detail, military enthusiasts will find that the book is too heavily orientated toward Napoleon's political and personal life. Certainly the earlier campaigns deserve to be studied from a military viewpoint and some have already been, though there is still quite a gap in the market.
The book includes four maps and quite a few illustrations. The illustrations are unfortunately printed in black-and-white on the same paper as the text, rather than being included as separate colour plates, and they suffer because of this. Although the portraits are reasonably well reproduced, some of the illustrations are reproductions of large paintings and the details are difficult to distinguish due to the reduction in size as well as the darkness of the resulting illustrations. Hopefully this will be rectified with future editions of this first volume as well as with the second volume.
As mentioned above, it's difficult to see the second volume making such a good impression, simply because of the glut of material already published, but if it is written in the same style as the first volume, it will still stand a good chance of becoming one of the standard works on the period.       

 

 
Sir Charles Oman
ISBN: 978-185367672
Oman's "A History of the Peninsular War" is regarded as the definitive English-language work on the subject. Though in the meantime it has been proven incorrect on some points, its seven volumes capture the spirit of the conflict perfectly. "Wellington's Army" is a companion volume to that series, but it can also be read in its own right, without reference to the larger work.
After decades studying the Peninsular War, it was inevitable that Oman would gain a deep insight into the workings of the British army of the time, and all of the requisite information is included in this book - organisation, tactics, strategy, leaders, uniforms and equipment, as well as sieges - however similar material has been published by both previous and subsequent authors. What marks Oman's effort out as exceptional is the topics which other authors either overlooked or didn't consider worthy of inclusion, but which were actually an essential part of army life.
In addition to chapters on the commissariat, baggage trains and "ladies at the front", the book includes a chapter on discipline and courts martial, as well as one on the spiritual life of the army. One of the opening chapters discusses the relative merits of the various sources of information on the period, and is indicative of the author's general attitude towards the subject. Although he quotes many sources in his works, Oman often accompanies these quotes with statements regarding the quoted authors' trustworthiness or lack thereof.
The book includes relatively few illustrations, all black-and-white; four plates portray high-ranking officers - Wellington, Hill, Graham and Picton, while the remaining four plates depict the uniforms of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Though the uniforms are attributed to specific units, the illustrations are intended to illustrate the generic type rather than provide material for study.
An index and three appendices complete the volume. The first appendix presents the establishment of the complete British army in 1809, the second provides a short history of each of the divisions and brigades of the Peninsular Army, while the third appendix is a bibliography of eyewitness accounts, sorted by the author's area of service, e.g. staff, regimental, train, medical personnel, etc.
This book is a well-rounded description of the British army which participated in the Peninsular War. Many readers will discover topics not encountered previously, and will hopefully be inspired to delve deeper into these less well-known, but nonetheless equally interesting, facets of the conflict.

 

 

Christopher Summerville
ISBN: 978-1-84415260-5
In contrast to many other histories, this book expressly sets out to describe a complete campaign and not just the culminating battle; the reader should therefore not be disappointed that the major battles, Eylau and Friedland, are covered in only about eighteen pages each.
The narrative is split into three sections - the Background, the Campaign and the Aftermath.
Much of the "Background" section will already be known to scholars of the era - a brief overview of the 1805 and 1806 campaigns, an explanation of the tactics of the era and a comparison of the troops, equipment and organisation of the armies involved. While this is a good introduction for the novice, it's questionable how many readers will have chosen this as one of their first books on the Napoleonic era. The most useful information in this section is a list of the Corps comprising the Grand Armée at the start of the campaign, including the strength of each corps and the name of the corps commander. 
The "Campaign Chronicle" section relates the events chronologically. To do this, it uses the present tense, a practice which I personally find irritating in a history book, but which might not bother other readers so much. The section is further subdivided into the various stages of strategic manoeuvring, which is a good approach as it accurately conveys the chess-like nature of grand strategy. The actions are described only to divisional level; the individual regiments involved are not named.    
The "Aftermath" section, which deals with the political consequences, is only three pages long. However the last few pages of the "Campaign" section deal in detail with the signing of the treaties of Tilsit.
In addition to the three main sections there is a lot of other content, including a section giving short biographies of many of the commanders, an appendix providing the current place names in Polish, Lithuanian or Russian (because the place names in the narrative are the German ones in use during the period) and an index.
As with other books in the "Campaign Chronicles" series, there are a number of sidebar articles on various subjects ranging from a history of Pomerania and Silesia to the direction of the wind at Eylau.
An order of battle is not included. As the author explains, the various sources are either contradictory or too vague on this point to have allowed him to produce a reliable OOB.
The book includes numerous very good quality black-and-white illustrations, mostly portraits of the various protagonists, but also contemporary paintings of the battles or the troops of the era. In contrast to the illustrations, the maps are disappointing. They are mostly reproductions of antique maps; though they provide authenticity, they are difficult for the modern reader to decipher.
This book is best seen as an introduction to the campaign rather than an exhaustive study. Among the books listed in the Bibliography, the reader will find a number which provide much more detailed information.

 

 

Osprey Men-At-Arms 444
Ronald Pawly
ISBN: 978-1-84603-257-8
The Chasseurs à Cheval formed the core of Napoleon's Guard from the very beginning; established as his "Guides" during the 1796 Italian campaign, they were later incorporated into the Consular Guard, finally becoming part of the Imperial Guard.
The unit's history during the period is thus very long, so long in fact that it takes up most of the book; the description of the uniform plates is the only section dedicated to uniforms even though, due to their proximity to the Emperor, most modellers will surely want as many uniform details as possible. Organisation comes even further down the list, although for each incarnation of the unit there is a paragraph relating the number of members of each individual rank within every squadron.
Since the Chasseurs à Cheval accompanied Napoleon on every campaign, the unit history is basically a recap of the campaigns of the time, information which, though well written, will already be known to most readers.
One interesting and unusual addition to the book is the officers' roll for 1813, which lists all officers by name together with the degree of the Legion of Honour which they had attained. This reveals the extent to which the unit was showered with decorations by Napoleon. 
The book includes 8 colour plates, many black-and-white illustrations and an index. As ever, the colour plates are excellent; for these alone the book is worth having on the bookshelf.

 

 

Osprey Men-At-Arms 389
Ronald Pawly
ISBN: 978-1-84176-508-2
Best known for their part in the courageous but futile cavalry charges against the Allied squares at Waterloo, the Red Lancers were a relatively new addition to the French Imperial Guard; the former Hussars of the Royal Dutch Guard were  incorporated into the French Guard after the annexation of Holland in 1810.
Within a few months, they were re-designated as Chevau-Léger Lancers, receiving training in the use of their new weapons from their senior colleagues, the Polish Lancers of the Guard.
The new Polish-style uniform was not officially worn by the Red Lancers until August 1811, and they could only briefly enjoy the glory of their new status before being ordered east to take part in the Russian campaign. Although the majority of their losses in 1812 were due to attrition, the 1813 and 1814 campaigns saw them committed to action more regularly, and were thus extremely costly both in terms of men and horses, though the unit performed well on most occasions during this period.
This book follows the usual 48-page Osprey MAA format, with 8 colour plates, numerous black and white illustrations, a description of the unit's history and of the evolution of the uniform and equipment during the period.
Ronald Pawly has also written a more detailed history entitled "The Red Lancers", which was not restricted by the Osprey format and therefore could devote more space to anecdotes and journal extracts, capturing the atmosphere of the period.
However, possibly because of the unit's short history, the Osprey book also does justice to the subject, covering the material in enough depth not to leave the reader feeling short-changed.  

 

 

Sir Charles Oman
ISBN: 978-1-85367-663-5
This is the last volume of Oman's history, so covers the concluding events of the Peninsular war, from the capture of the frontier fortress of San Sebastian and the invasion of France up to the end of hostilities.
Oman's history is generally accepted as being less biased than Sir William Napier's, which appeared within a couple of decades of the end of the war. Napier had taken part in many of the campaigns in the Peninsula and his opinions of some of his fellow officers led to numerous disputes after publication of his work. Oman, writing almost a century later, had access to many more eye-witness accounts from French and Spanish sources than Napier, which resulted in a more balanced, though not completely unbiased body of work.
This last volume is also interesting because many of the combatants mentioned later took part in the Waterloo campaign.
As well as relating the events of the last year of the war, there is a short concluding chapter which discusses the place of the Peninsular War in history.
The book includes 12 appendices, giving the order of battle and casualty figures for the larger actions, as well as 16 maps and plans of the region or the battle under discussion in the accompanying chapter. The maps and plans, as well as the only illustration - a portrait of Ferdinand VII of Spain -, are in black and white. 
The many sources quoted in the text are referenced in footnotes at the end of the relevant page, and the book includes an index, which is very useful considering the enormous amount of information contained in this volume.
Oman's history deservedly counts as essential reading for anyone undertaking an in-depth study of the Peninsular War.
   

 

Ruth Scurr
ISBN: 978-0-099-45898-2
The French Revolution is one of the most studied eras in history. The basic facts are even general knowledge, often included in school curricula. And Robespierre is probably one of the most well known of the main characters of the period.
But while many people know his name, but not his story, those with a slightly better knowledge of the era can point to his role in the Terror and on the Committee of Public Safety, for which he is almost invariably portrayed as the ultimate villain.
The author does not attempt to deny these facts, but rather explores the background to them: Robespierre's early life and career, his rise to popularity and power and the reasons for his actions.
This is a very detailed biography, as would be expected, but it doesn't confine itself to Robespierre's circle of influence, relating in parallel the history of the Revolution, from its origins up until Robespierre's execution. Of course, the French Revolution did not stop there, so the book can't be seen as a complete history of the era, but can be recommended to anyone who wants to start studying the period in more depth.
In fact, the book ends quite abruptly. The  events following Robespierre's fall, the end of the Terror and the dismantling of many of the processes he put in place are not covered. Instead, it ends with a short chapter about Wordsworth rejoicing on hearing the news in England, and how this was just the start of Robespierre being misunderstood.
The book includes one section of black and white illustrations and one of colour illustrations, a map of Paris in the Revolutionary era and a chronology of events.
It is well written and - unusual for a biography - is a balanced narrative, neither demonising nor attempting to vindicate its subject.
Although students of the French Revolution will already know most of the facts presented here, it is still well worth a read as a biography of a key character of the era. For military historians, however, there is nothing here which will keep their interest.   
 

 

A. G. Macdonell
ISBN: 1-85375-222-3
On the face of it, relating the biographies of Napoleon's marshals by retelling the history of the period, from the Army of Italy in 1796 to the Second Restoration in 1815, would not seem like the best approach. an author could take The history of the period is so well known at this stage that a book which provides a superficial overview would normally not hold a reader's interest. However, Macdonell's book achieves that goal admirably.
One of the reasons is that Macdonnell tells a story rather than just reporting history. The facts are secondary to the story. Not all of the descriptions of events are completely correct, but the spirit of the era is captured perfectly. It has to be said that the book was first published in 1934, and in some places it reads more like Enid Blyton than military history. Which present day historian would dare to write "... Berthier was an exceptionally ugly little man ..." or describe Moncey as "...very reliable and very stupid ..."? 
The author doesn't restrict himself to the marshals' careers, but also covers quite a few of the other generals who could, or should, have become marshals. Most readers will probably find at least a couple of their favourite generals who don't get a mention though. 
The only illustration is a diagram explaining the bataillon carré, whereas it would have been more useful to have portraits of the marshals, but at the time it was written books tended not to include very many pictures.
If not taken too seriously, this book is an enjoyable read, and whets the appetite for deeper study of the colourful characters whose tale it tells.

 

 

James R. Arnold
ISBN: 1-84415-279-0
Napoleon's early campaigns have generated far less interest than those after he had become Emperor. Although he had already risen to the position of First Consul before his second Italian campaign, Napoleon's grip on power was far from secure at the time. Among other things, he had to contend with having his political rival, Moreau, in command of the French army on the Rhine. Although nominally outranked by the First Consul, Moreau had to be cajoled into co-operating in the interests of France.
Arnold's book starts by explaining the background to the conflict as well as the political situation in France. It then describes the Italian campaign, before switching to the German theatre.
The book includes quite a few black and white illustrations of the protagonists and uniforms of the era, twenty maps showing overviews of the campaigns and the main battles, as well as three appendices: the first contains orders of battle for Marengo and Hohenlinden, the second lists the losses on both sides during these battles, and the third contains short biographies of the most prominent characters involved.
There is very little to find fault with in this book, though one slight quibble I have is that there a number of photographs of the battlefields today, with captions like "Richepance's cavalry charged towards the camera". Of course, since photography wasn't yet introduced in 1800, it's obvious that the author means the point from which the photograph was taken, but it just sounds strange.
This book is well researched, well written and well produced. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the military history of the pre-Empire period. 

 

 

Osprey Campaign 15
Geoffrey Wootten
ISBN: 978-1-85532-210-3
Imagine being asked to write a book about the most studied campaign in military history. Only one restriction - keep it to 96 pages, including space for numerous black and white illustrations, half a dozen colour uniform plates, three double-page 3-D maps of the battlefield of Waterloo as well as several maps of the campaign and the other battles. Not forgetting an order of battle of the opposing armies, the list of contents, index, a chronology and a guide to further reading.
What's left over might be enough space for a long essay, but certainly not for any sort of detailed description of the campaign. Given these restrictions, the author has done well to include the main points of the campaign and of the Battle of Waterloo itself. This book was never going to make an impression on any readers who have already spent some time studying the history of the era.
On the other hand, the presentation of the subject, with all the additional material mentioned above, is more likely to encourage newcomers to the era to delve further into its history than a volume which covers every fact in minute detail, but is not as attractively presented.   
Presentation is the key to Osprey's success and this book is a good example of the professionalism which distinguishes their publications. While by no means an essential volume on every Napoleonic student's bookshelf, it nevertheless deserves its place on any which it does occupy.

 

 

Osprey Men-At-Arms 160
Philip Haythornthwaite
ISBN: 0-85045-535-9
This second volume covers the units of the Middle and Young Guard as well as the Seamen of the Guard; the first volume, Napoleon's Guard Infantry (1), covered the Grenadiers and Chasseurs, usually known as the Old Guard.
The list of units is long: Fusiliers-Grenadiers, Fusiliers-Chasseurs, Tirailleurs-Grenadiers, Conscrits-Grenadiers (both of these later becoming the Tirailleurs), Tirailleurs-Chasseurs, Conscrits-Chasseurs, National Guards of the Guard (these last three later becoming the Voltigeurs), Flanqueurs- Grenadiers and Flanqueurs-Chasseurs, as well as the associated vélites and pupilles.  
The history of these units is obviously shorter than that of the Grenadiers and Chasseurs, but it is reasonably well described, as are the uniforms of the units covered.
This volume not only completes the description of the Guard Infantry, it is also useful in its own right, covering units which are less famous, but which played no small part in the later part of the Napoleonic Wars .

 

 

Osprey Men-At-Arms 153
Philip Haythornthwaite
ISBN: 0-85045-534-0
As explained in the introduction, the infantry of the Imperial Guard was not simply split into units of Old, Middle and Young Guard. The differentiation between these categories is presented in the book, clarifying why this first volume covers only the grenadiers and chasseurs as well as their vélites and veterans, with all other types covered by the second volume.
In the usual MAA manner, the history of these units is first discussed, then their uniforms and equipment. Of course, the uniforms of the Grenadiers and Chasseurs will be well known to Napoleonic enthusiasts, but less familiar types are also covered: the precursor Consular Guard, the musicians and sapeurs, as well as the later addition, the Dutch Grenadiers.
As with most MAA books, this is a useful addition to the library of anyone with an interest in the units and uniforms of the era.

 

 

Eckart Kleβmann
ISBN: 978-3-87134-561-6
This German-language book was published to accompany the four-part television series of the same name. It explores the relationship between Napoleon and the people of the German nation during the years of upheaval following the French Revolution and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Describing this relationship in simple terms is about as easy as finding a simple definition of the German nation of the time.
At the end of the 18th Century, the major power in Central Europe was the Holy Roman Empire. The Habsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Prussia were the leading states, but there were also dozens of tiny entities, all of which were more or less free to act autonomously. 
After Jena, Napoleon restructured many of the smaller former states of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolving some and organising a large part of the remainder into the Coalition of the Rhine. The optimism which these states felt at the start of this era soon turned to distrust as France forced its new allies to contribute troops and material for the campaigns which followed.
The emergence of a national German identity, similar to that of the French nation following the revolution, culminated with the Battle of the Nations, after which Napoleon's last German allies defected to the cause of German freedom.
This book contains many interesting eye-witness accounts of the first arrival of the French army, the long years of occupation and the final expulsion of the French forces.
A couple of the eyewitness accounts describe the French soldiers' habit of carrying a spoon in the band of their hat, so as to have it near at hand when the next opportunity for a meal arose, something which I have never seen modelled in any scale.
The book contains many black and white illustrations, though the only map is that inside the front and back cover, which shows Europe at the height of French power. This book is more of a social than a military history, but nevertheless makes for very interesting reading.       
 

 

Dr Hubert O'Connor
ISBN: 978-1-906-35304-9
Compared to his early life and military career, there have been very few books written about Napoleon's final years. Once he had been exiled to St. Helena, Napoleon's direct influence on European affairs ended, so these later years are not of as much interest to historians. Although Napoleon's legend grew during these years, the individual faded into obscurity, his movements and contact restricted.
This book describes those years of exile, drawing largely on the diaries of his personal physician for most of that time, Dr. Barry O'Meara, who had seen service as a British naval doctor during the Napoleonic Wars.
Starting with a short biography of O'Meara up until his first meeting with Napoleon, the book continues by relating the events leading to Napoleon placing himself in the custody of England and the politicians' decision to send him into exile rather than allow him to settle in England as he had expected.
The description of the voyage to St. Helena is based on the journals of two of the senior naval officers of the flotilla, while the first six months on the island are told from the point of view of the complete entourage.
The narrative is then taken up by O'Meara's diary. The original diary ran to thousands of pages, which O'Connor has distilled to just over a hundred. However, the sense of tedium and routine on the island is still evident.
Although O'Connor alludes in his introduction to the personal battle between Napoleon and the Governor-General of the island, Sir Hudson Lowe, this sense of struggle does not come through in the passages chosen.
The diary excerpts end when O'Meara is removed from the island, at which point the narrative returns to a general description of the deterioration of Napoleon's health, his death and autopsy. To wrap up, the book relates the rest of O'Meara's life and the return of Napoleon's remains to France.
There are many interesting passages in this book, though the bulk of the text, the excerpts from O'Meara's diary, are at times tedious and repetitive. O'Connor adds quite a few explanatory notes to the diary entries, although most of these comments will only be required by readers with little or no previous knowledge about Napoleon's life and military background.
This book will be worthwhile for anyone who has not already read much about this part of Napoleon's life. For those who have already read or book or two on the subject, I suspect that it will not add greatly to their knowledge.
The book contains many black and white illustrations, both contemporary paintings as well as photos of the island as it is today. A ground plan of the house at Longwood is also included, which, though not to scale shows which of the rooms were used by each of the occupants.
In conclusion, this book is not a must-have, but will not be out of place on the serious Napoleonic history enthusiast's bookshelf. 
            

 

 
Jean-Cristophe Carbonel
ISBN: 978-2-35250-089-6
This book has already been reviewed on the PSR and Amazon websites, however neither of these reviews looked at this book from the point of view of a Napoleonic enthusiast.
The first remark to make is that it was originally published in French under the title "Les Petits Soldats Airfix - à l'échelle H0/00 de 1959 à 2009 -". The English language version was very eagerly awaited and it was probably due to time pressure that the translation is not very good.
Since publication, Histoires & Collections has made the English-language version of page 51, which was mistakenly left in French, available as a PDF to download from its website. The relevant web page is linked here.
The H&C website includes four preview pages of the French version, from which can be seen that the layout of the illustrations is exactly the same as in the English version. Interestingly, the original version correctly names PSR, while the English version calls the site "Plastic Soldiers Review", which PSR were a bit miffed about. Also, in the English version, some of the quotes attributed to PSR seem to be translations back to English of the French translation of the original text, while other quotes seem to be lifted directly from the PSR website, which would seem the easier option for a translator.
In fact, I found it strange that the PSR reviews were used at all, as they were all written in retrospect, which doesn't really capture the spirit of the era in which the sets were released.
So much for the presentation of the book, now to the contents: Anyone who buys this book expecting hundreds of photos of Airfix figures will be disappointed. By far the majority of the illustrations are of the box art, however this is not any less interesting, and the figures can already be seen on other websites.
The only photos of Napoleonic figures are two of individual figures from the Waterloo Wargame set (which were anyway copies of figures from the normal Airfix sets). All of the Napoleonic sets are included in the box art illustrations, and there is even a picture from an Airfix catalogue, showing a preview of the box art for the Waterloo French Cavalry set, where a Red Lancer (though called "Polish chevau-léger" in the book) appears among the Cuirassiers. In fact, while looking at the French Cavalry box art, I noticed for the first time, that there is a cuirassier armed with a lance! (This is not mentioned in the book).
The Waterloo Farmhouse and the Waterloo Assault Set box art is shown, and there is even a photo of the Assault Set with the lid open, showing the contents neatly packed inside, but which is of no real benefit, except maybe to recreate the feeling of first opening the set.
Having gone through each set in the text, the last dozen pages list them again in a sort of encyclopaedic format, which is really not necessary. Mixed in with the descriptions of the sets, there are snippets of interviews with the Airfix figure designers and box artists, which are a nice addition.
There is a note at the end of the list of contents, which states that the illustrations speak for themselves, so that captions are usually not included. However, I would have preferred if there had been captions listing the generation of the box art shown. This can only really be deciphered by referring to the table on page 100, which shows how the edges and sides of the boxes evolved over the years.
Most of these points may seem very negative, but considering the lack of books on the subject, its natural that each one which does appear will be dissected by its readers. The point to remember is that this is a book - a whole book! - dedicated to a subject close to our hearts, and despite its faults, it is more than welcome.
The book is marked as no. 6 in the series "Figures and Toys"; the other books seem to be dedicated to collecting 12-inch action figures, so are not at all in the same vein. Carbonel has written one other book for H&C, "Heller: la maquette à la Française", so there is a good possibility that other manufacturers' ranges will be profiled in the future, especially as this book about Airfix figures is bound to sell well.
This book is definitely one to buy, though because of the poor translation, I would recommend anyone with reasonable French to buy the original version.   
 
 
 
ISBN: 978-3-9502688-2-9
Between 1905 and 1910, a series of 11 volumes of German-language works was published in the Series "Das Kriegsjahr 1809 in Einzeldarstellungen", covering practically every facet of the 1809 campaign. The volumes were written by a group of officers from the Austro-Hungarian army. In 2009, to commemorate the bicentennial of the campaign, four of these volumes were republished in one book, which takes its title from the name of the original series. The four republished volumes are:
 
Österreichs Thermopylen (Austria's Thermopylae)
Captain Alois Veltzé
At the start of the war, the Austrians under Archduke Johann had advanced into Italy, but due to the defeat of Archduke Karl around Regensburg, the forces in Italy were forced to withdraw again to prevent being outflanked. As well as pursuing the retreating Austrians, Prince Eugène de Beauharnais intended to link up with the main French army for the decisive battle. However, the French advance through the mountain passes was held up by a number of desperate stands, which are described in this volume.
For the most part it is well written, but does tend towards painting the Austrian defenders as heroic to a man, with the French as the anonymous, ultimately overwhelming enemy.
A number of black and white illustrations as well as a couple of maps are included.
 
Der Volkskrieg in Tirol (The Insurrection in Tyrol)
First Lieutenant Rudolf Bartsch
Where the first volume of this book is just biased towards the Austrian perspective, this volume takes it to extremes. The insurrection in Tyrol is a part of the Napoleonic Wars which is largely overlooked and deserves more attention. However, the melodramatic tone of this volume will probably deter most readers. The military aspect of the insurrection is broadly covered, however the various battles and manoeuvres are not given enough detail to interest the student of military history.
The text is accompanied by a number of black and white illustrations, mostly of the leaders of the insurrection, and a map.
 
Aspern
Major Maximilian Ritter von Hoen
This and the last volume of this book are in complete contrast to the previous two volumes. In terms of detail, clarity and objectiveness, von Hoen could hold his own with any historian of the present day. He not only provides an enormous amount of information on the movements of both sides, this is done in a factual, non-hysterical manner.
The merits and shortcomings on both sides are discussed as the battle progresses. Scenes which many other authors have made the central point of the battle, such as Archduke Karl grabbing the flag of the Regiment Zach No. 15 to rally it, or Lannes' mortal wounding, are dealt with in one line, without hyperbole.
A number of maps as well as relevant black and white illustrations accompany the text.
 
Wagram
Lieutenant-Colonel Maximilian Ritter von Hoen
Again von Hoen has delivered a masterwork of objectivity. The phases of the battle are dealt with in great detail; the see-saw nature of the action is captured perfectly. Again, significant events like Lasalle's death are noted, but not overstated.
The black and white illustrations are relevant and one of the maps shows the locations of the various bridges which the French built to cross the Danube, as well as the Austrian fortifications. All that is missing to make these last two volumes perfect is maps showing the location of each unit as the battle progressed, à la Osprey Campaign series or as in Robert Goetz' excellent book 1805: Austerlitz.
 
 
 
- The Battle of the Nations -
Osprey Campaign 25
Peter Hofschröer
ISBN: 978-1-85532-354-4
The books in Osprey's "Campaign" series are named after the key battle of the featured campaign. In a way this is misleading, because the actual battle often receives only a few pages of attention. I would much prefer that the books were named after the campaign, e.g. "The Leipzig Campaign" or "The 1813 Campaign in Germany", which better describes the content.
This volume covers the armies involved, their commanders and strategies, the various battles during the campaign and the aftermath of the Battle of Leipzig. There are also seven full pages listing the order of battle of the armies in October 1813, as well as maps, 3-D battlefield views, numerous illustrations, a section on the battlefield today, a list of recommended reading, even a section on wargaming the battle.
In short, this book tries to do too much. Especially within the confines of the format of this series, it's just not possible to do the campaign or the Battle of Leipzig justice. I've no doubt that Hofschröer could have filled double the amount of pages with text alone, if he'd only had the opportunity. For instance, his statement that the premature destruction of the bridge over the Elster was not as significant as widely thought bears further examination.
As an introduction to the campaign, this book is useful, but no-one will come away as an expert after reading it. As usual, the illustrations included are excellent, and alone worth buying the book for.
If only they did not take up so much space, at least some of which would have been better employed expanding on the descriptions of the battles.
 
 
 
David Andress
 ISBN: 0-349-11588-5
Despite the title, this book deals very little with war and warfare during the period, either internally or externally to France. Instead, it is a painstakingly drafted history of the political intrigues and machinations during the early years of the revolution. Although at first this might seem a terrible tedious subject, Andress deals with it so well that it reads more like a thriller, compelling the reader turn the page to find out the fate of the characters introduced along the way. The various factions within the French political landscape of the time are dealt with, as are their political philosophies. The royalist uprisings within France, as well as the wars against other European powers, are covered, but certainly not in any great detail. However, for those who ever wondered why Napoleon was in Toulon, this book explains the background to the siege. Also covered is the defection of General Dumouriez to the Austrians, an act which led to almost all French generals of the period coming under suspicion of treason at some stage during their career. According to Ségur in his Memoirs of an Aide de Camp, it was also largely because the name of one of the Duc d'Enghiens' companions in exile, General Thumery, was misunderstood as Dumouriez that a force was sent by Napoleon to Ettenheim to arrest them. In fact, the general turmoil of the revolutionary period gives an insight into the insecurity which Napoleon must have felt in his position as First Consul and later as Emperor, and provides one of the reasons why he sought to make his campaigns short and decisive, so as not to be absent from Paris for long periods, as well as the need to provide a stream of military victories to maintain his popularity. The book also explains the revolutionary calendar, something else which many people have probably wondered about. It is interesting, that very little mention is made of Napoleon. His name does appear a few times in the text, but each time accompanied by very little detail compared to the word sketches of the other characters. It may be that the author just thought that there were already enough books which dealt primarily with Napoleon, and that the material did not need to be rehashed, but the impression given is that he deliberately downplays Napoleon's growing role in French politics. The book includes sixteen pages of black and white illustrations of people and events mentioned, as well as a few maps of France. The book is rounded off with a timeline of the French Revolution to 1795, a glossary of the political terms of the period and a summary of the biographies of the "cast of characters". For the purely military history enthusiast, this book is one to avoid. However, for those who take an interest in the background to a conflict and the connections between events of the revolution and those of the empire, there are a number of rewarding passages in this book, which put simply, is a good read.

 

Bruce Quarrie
 ISBN: 0-85059-178-3
This short guide was expanded by Quarrie a few years later to become Napoleon's Campaigns in Miniature. Both books are classics of early wargaming literature, though the Airfix Magazine Guide has really only nostalgic value at this stage. Background information on the wargaming hobby and of the armies of the period is easily accessible with a few mouse clicks these days, whereas in 1974 the combination was extremely rare. The rules contained in the appendix would likewise most probably seem extremely crude by today's standards, but at the time they launched many a wargamer's "career". The book only consists of 64 pages, but the text is small, so there is plenty of reading apart from the playing rules. There are also numerous black and white photos of wargames in progress to whet the appetite. Most of the information is still relevant, though there are a couple of places where the book shows its age. For instance where, comparing the price of plastic and metal figures, Quarrie writes that metal figures are expensive and can cost "up to 10p for a foot figure". Before wallowing too deep in nostalgia, though, one has to remember that at the time there were only a handful of companies which were producing metal figures for the period, and indeed Airfix was still the only producer of plastic Napoleonic figures for a decade after this book appeared.
    

 

René Chartrand
Osprey New Vanguard 76
 ISBN: 1-84176-460-4
Although the first volume, which covers Field Artillery, will probably be of more interest to most people, the heavy artillery was also an integral part of the army's equipment. These guns were too cumbersome to be used in open battle, but were to be found on the defending or besieging side in sieges of fortresses and walled cities, as well as in coastal forts. The subject is well described, with many details and illustrations for anyone inspired to model one of the guns or even create a diorama, though the uniforms of the gunners are not described in great detail. This book is well written and informative, but simply because of the subject will probably not be an essential part of most people's library.

 

Paddy Griffith
 ISBN: 978-1-84603-278-3
Having already read and enjoyed the volume on British infantry tactics, I was looking forward to the French equivalent. However, I came away disappointed, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because the fundamental infantry tactics of the period didn't differ enough from nation to nation to merit individual volumes. A book each on infantry, cavalry and artillery tactics in the Napoleonic era would have been an interesting alternative. That said, this book contains a lot of information, as well as numerous illustrations, however the fact that the volumes on French and British tactics have different authors has led to a certain amount of overlapping of information, which in a sixty-four page book should really be avoided. 

 

F.N. Maude
 ISBN: 1-84677-235-4
Rather than concentrating on the tactics of the battles, the author discusses the strategy of the 1806 campaign, which he portrays as a masterwork of military evolution. Instead of simply listing the number and types of troops on each side on various days, he explores the fundamental differences in the philosophy of the French and Prussian leadership, ranging from the Prussian difficulty in understanding and correctly employing skirmishers to the French use of the "batallion carré" - army corps moving in a chequerboard fashion, in order to rapidly change front or concentrate forces when required. As a book describing a campaign rather than a single battle, this volume achieves its goal, The reader will not find much information on the individual battalions involved or events on a local scale, but instead gains a deeper insight into and appreciation of Napoleonic strategy and the reasons why the combined Prussian and Saxon forces were outmanoeuvred in just a few weeks.

 

Christopher Duffy
 ISBN: 0-304-35278-0
When writing about a particular battle or campaign, an author has to choose whether to assume the reader already knows the context or whether the military and political background needs to be explained before getting to the actual  subject of the book. Usually, to be on the safe side, an author picks the latter option, as is the case with this book. Having experienced the opposite approach, when I recently read "1776: America and Britain at War", in which the author refers to previous political and military events without explaining them, I have to say that I can only support any book having an extra chapter or two to set the context. In the case of Duffy's book, the information on the military background is more than just the usual quick run through of the nations involved and their forces. Among other things, there is a very good description of the process for loading and firing a musket, which shows that the author has a profound understanding of his subject. The political context is not so deeply explained, certainly not to the level of Adam Zamoyski's "1812". The description of the battle is excellent; the action is split into seven distinct phases, which makes it easier to follow as a whole. There are also plans of the sector of the battlefield currently under discussion. Colour photographs of the present day battle site are included, as well as black and white prints of contemporary paintings of the battle and the major participants. A detailed order of battle rounds off this book, which I can highly recommend, though it is not easy to come by because of its age.    

 

Osprey Men-at Arms 122
Otto von Pivka
 ISBN: 0-85045-431-X
The title of this book, which is part of a series within a series, is a bit misleading, since the states which made up the Confederation of the Rhine were mostly only allied to France from 1806 to 1813. However, the uniforms and organisation of the Hesse-Darmstadt and Hesse-Kassel forces during the complete French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are covered in this volume. As with the rest of Osprey's MAA series, there are a number of coloured plates included, which together with the very detailed text, provide plenty of information for modellers of individual figures or dioramas, but also for any wargamer who may want to raise an army containing these troops.   

 

Peter Hofschröer
 ISBN: 1-84415-176-X
This is the companion volume to Waterloo 1815: Quatre Bras & Ligny by the same author, and the comments are pretty much the same. Particularly interesting is the chapter on the aftermath of Waterloo: Grouchy's rearguard action as the allies advanced on Paris, as well as the sieges of the northern French fortresses. As with the first volume, there are some glaring typos, and I was also surprised to see that the first chapter mentioned "Marshals" Gérard, Mouton (Count of Lobau),  and Reille, as each of these only received their marshal's baton many years after the Napoleonic era had ended, in 1830, 1831 and 1847 respectively. Once again, Hofschröer has written a book which explores an important and for the most part neglected area of Napoleonic history.

 

Dr. Friedrich Richter
 ISBN: 3-939102-96-2
When reprinting a volume which was originally published in 1911, it can be expected that the publisher keeps the original text. Though the prose style is dated, it lends the work atmosphere and authenticity. In this case, however, Melchior Verlag have taken things a step further, in that the reprint, like the original, uses the "Fraktur" script (the old-style German script). Which means that this book will be enjoyed by any German speaker over about 70 years old, but otherwise is a bit of a slog to decipher. The book is written mainly from the viewpoint of the forces of the Sixth Coalition, referring often to the French and their allies as the "enemy forces". However, in the main, the actual reporting of events is unbiased. The author often refers to people by their titles, e.g. "the Duke of Ragusa" for Marmont or "the Crown Prince" for Bernadotte. The various phases of the battle are explored in great detail, even devoting a chapter to the King of Saxony's dithering before and during the battle, and another to the destruction of the bridge over the river Elster. The book does not have an index, which is a little annoying when searching for certain passages. It also does not contain any illustrations. However, there are eight maps of the battlefield included in a sleeve inside the back cover. These maps are even suitable for framing, though with some of them, a magnifying glass is required to be able to make out all of the details. All in all, this was actually a very rewarding book to read, and it's a pity it will probably not receive a very widespread readership.

 

Gregory Fremont-Barnes
 ISBN: 978-1-84176-283-8
Having read the volume on the Napoleonic Wars by the same author, I knew that the aim of Osprey's Essential Histories series is to provide an overview of the period in question, not just from the military point of view, but also discussing the political, social and economic issues of the day. With only ninety-six pages in which to fit all this information, it was obvious that neither the individual military actions of the era, nor the individual commanders would receive much coverage. However, I'm sure I'm not the only reader who found that, faced with such a shortage of space, devoting four of these pages to a biography of Lady Hamilton was excessive. As with all Osprey books, there are numerous illustrations and maps. Considered as an introduction to the era, which serves as a jumping off point for exploring in more depth the areas which the reader finds interesting, this book serves its purpose. But anyone who already has a rudimentary knowledge of the era will not find much new material here. Of course, this book is, strictly speaking, not relevant to the Napoleonic Wars, but since the Revolutionary Wars were the breeding ground for many of the commanders of the Napoleonic wars, the era is worthy of study.    

 

General Count Philippe de Ségur
 ISBN: 1-845-88-005-6
For a student of Napoleonic history, this book is like a fly on the wall account of some of the most famous and important episodes of that era. In his position as ADC to Napoleon, Ségur negotiated with Mack the details of the capitulation of Ulm, was present at the meeting between Napoleon and Dolguruky two days before Austerlitz, as well as on the evening of the Battle of Jena, when Napoleon received news of Davout's victory at Auerstädt. The book recounts Ségur's rise through the ranks from his début as a private of hussars, as ADC to Macdonald and the 1805 and 1806 campaigns in great detail. Due to being captured in December 1806 during the Polish campaign, the memoirs do not cover the 1807 campaign. Also, as Ségur was seriously wounded at Somosierra in November 1808, he did not take apart in the rest of the Spanish campaign or the 1809 campaign, so that the rest of the book deals with the internal rivalries of the French government. Ségur's period as ADC to Napoleon ended before the 1812 campaign, which is therefore not covered by this book, though he did write a memoir of that campaign, which has been published in two volumes. The negative points of this book are all related to its presentation. Apart from the picture of the capitulation of Ulm on the front cover, and a black and white portrait of Napoleon on the first page, there are no illustrations or maps in the book. There are also a large number of punctuation errors, with full stops appearing sometimes in the middle of a sentence, sometimes missing at the end of a sentence. The translation is not up to today's standards, but considering that the first edition appeared in 1896, the language used in fact adds to the authenticity as an eye-witness document. I have seen many authors refer to Ségur's memoirs in their works, and with good reason. This is an enjoyable book, and a welcome change for anyone tired of reading books which simply tediously relate the period's history.    

 

Philip Haythornthwaite
ISBN: 978-1-84603-222-6
While most books deal with the strategies used during a campaign or overall tactics of a battle, this volume concentrates on the infantry drill within a single battalion. The text is accompanied by numerous illustrations, including a number of colour plates, which are a great aid in explaining the various manoeuvres described. The book also gives examples of battles in which the theory was used in practice, and of the differences between the "parade ground" manoeuvres and those used with effect on the battlefield. This is a very useful book, because it describes in detail the tactics which are mentioned only superficially in most accounts of battles or smaller engagements. The illustrations also offer a vast amount of possibilities for modellers of this era.   

 

Peter Hofschröer
ISBN: 1-84415-168-9
A very good book recounting the twin battles which took place two days before Waterloo, and which had a great influence on the course of that battle. There are lots of photos of the present-day region as well as contemporary paintings. Many of the higher-ranking officers are profiled and there is a brigade-level order of battle for both battles. There are two areas which could have been done better - more maps of the battles showing the various stages would have been useful, and there are quite a few typos, which is not a big problem, but detracts a little from the pleasure of reading the book. All in all, though, a welcome change to the numerous volumes on Waterloo.

 

- Napoleon destroys Prussia -
Osprey Campaign 20
David Chandler
ISBN: 978-1-85532-285-1
In fact, this book covers both Jena and Auerstädt as well as the campaign leading up to and following those battles. Inevitably, this means that the description of the battle of Jena is really only a short overview, more an introduction to the battle. The "3-D" map of Jena shows only the individual divisions, while for Auerstädt, the individual French regiments are shown. The very comprehensive orders of battle for Jena and Auerstädt as well as the numerous illustrations are the best features of this book. One other point: the small print at the start of the book (though not the list of contents) mentions a section on wargaming the battles, which is not in the book. Possibly it was included in an earlier edition.

  

R.J.T. Hills
ISBN: 0-85052-087-8
This book is part of the "Famous Regiments" series edited by Lt. General Sir Brian Horrocks. It is a history of the regiment, which includes one relatively short chapter each on the regiment's role in the Peninsular War and in the Waterloo campaign. It is of interest mostly for the organisational details and the first hand accounts.

 

Paul Strathern
ISBN: 978-1-844-13917-0
An enormous amount of research has gone into this book, and it is a very good description of the expedition, its context and aftermath. However, there a couple of niggly points, which the book falls down on, e.g. the author refers quite often to the use of rifles and bullets, where it should be Muskets and musket balls. Although the various battles are described in a fair amount of detail, there is little or no mention of the names or numbers of the actual units involved. It seems that the author is not primarily a military historian. Also, this book would have been a good opportunity to give more attention to the early careers of the generals who accompanied Napoleon to Egypt - Lannes, Berthier, Bessières, Murat, etc. - which the author has not done. Nevertheless, this is a very good book and well worth the read.

 

- The Fate of Empires -
Osprey Campaign 101
Ian Castle
ISBN: 1-84176-136-2
A very good book, especially the "3-D" maps of the battlefield. The battle and the campaign as a whole are well described, but suffer a little from the shortage of pages used in this series. Includes an order of battle for Austerlitz, so is a good reference.

 

Osprey Men-at-Arms 141
Philip Haythornthwaite
ISBN: 0-85045-512-x
As with all of this series, a very good reference book, though not really the type of literature most people will want to take on holiday with them.

 

- A wargamer's guide to the Napoleonic Wars 1796 - 1815 -
Bruce Quarrie
ISBN: 0-85059-785-4
If I was to be castaway on a desert island and could only take one book with me, this would be it. The amount of information crammed into this book is incredible. Although primarily intended for wargamers, it includes an overview with maps of the most important battles, a description of the troop types and leaders for many of the countries involved, even details of the recruiting methods, pay and food of troops on campaign. Not to mention a set of wargaming rules.

 

- Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow -
Adam Zamoyski
ISBN: 978-0-00-712374-2
An excellent account of the 1812 campaign. A lot of time is spent setting the scene, with the context and build-up to the campaign described in great detail. There are numerous eye-witness accounts included, which really help to convey the atmosphere of the period.

 

- The Duke, the Model Maker and the Secret of Waterloo -
Peter Hofschröer
ISBN: 0-571-21769-9
Although technically not about the Napoleonic Wars, the subject is one which is close to a lot of people's heart, a British officer creating an extremely detailed model of the Battle of Waterloo, and his dispute with the Duke of Wellington over the role of the Prussians in that battle. A very good read, though from the photographs in the book, it is difficult to make out a lot of detail of the individual units. Also, I would have liked to have seen more information on the method by which the figures were produced and by whom.

 

- The Rise and Fall of an Empire -
Gregory Fremont-Barnes & Todd Fisher
ISBN: 978-1-84176-831-1
This is actually a collection of four previous volumes on the topic, which appeared in the "Essential Histories" series. Due to the amount of material to be covered, the information is relatively compactly conveyed, which unfortunately has an adverse effect on the readability. This would be a good book as a primer for the period, but anyone who has done much reading on the subject will not learn a great deal.  

 

- Napoleon and the destruction of the Third Coalition -
Robert Goetz
ISBN: 1-85367-644-6
A very detailed account of the battle and the campaign leading up to it. This book is written from the military point of view, so has a lot of specific information like unit names involved in various phases of the battle, an order of battle and maps of the various phases of action. One slight complaint I have is that the artillery didn't get as much of a mention as the infantry or cavalry, whether it was just that there is not as much information available, or a preference of the author, I don't know. This book is well worth reading and having as a reference.