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  • I have just taken delivery of Paul Dawson's latest tome, Waterloo 'the truth at last'. I have read the introductory which outlines the same old criticism of Anglo-centric tellings of the battle with the same old mutterings of the Prussians being ignored along with any other non red coated allied units: "In traditional Anglo-phonic histories which ignore the Prussians"

    It goes on and on in that vein which is a shame as it seems that a bias has stepped in before the book is one page in!

    The book is another French perspective which hopefully will make for some good reading.

    One day, someone will publish a book about the battle laying out what, how and when incidents probably happened without personal comment.

    We all know that about 150,000 men and about 50,000 horses took part in the battle. We all know who won and we all know that 'in general' they all fought bravely. lets have a story about that bravery and how 'through study and dissection' their stories can be told without any personal opinion from the author. No matter what the nationality of the author, they all tuck a varying amount of bias into the narrative and that can only be a bad thing.

    Get over yourselves....Publish your findings without publishing your thoughts.

    Dawson also admits that he is "pro-Napoleon and anti-Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth century."

    Anyway! Dawson goes on to describe where he tapped his information of the French army from 'Muster rolls' legion of Honour records etc, and that he and his collegues had collected "over 80,000 points of data" and have found over 200 "untapped" "officer accounts in legal documents.

    I'll leave it there and get on reading.

    PS. Dawson's book is identical in binding and size as Hussey's.

    Paul
    Last edited by Dibble201Bty; 04 Feb 18, 15:35.
    ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
    All human ills he can subdue,
    Or with a bauble or medal
    Can win mans heart for you;
    And many a blessing know to stew
    To make a megloamaniac bright;
    Give honour to the dainty Corse,
    The Pixie is a little shite.

    Comment


    • So what did you think of it in the end Paul?

      I bought his book on French cavalry 'Au Galop' which to be honest I found appallingly written and seemed to have pointless lists of things which could have easily been boiled down to a few words from the author. Also pages and pages of quotes from De Brack for example which didn't seem to illustrate any points.

      Waterloo 'the truth at last' is so News of the World a title, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

      Historians' national bias is not necessarily for their own country as can be seen with this one. Orwell said 'It's easy to be patriotic about other people's countries' and I agree. The same can be said for history, as they are periods we will never truly know. We merely get fragments.

      Despite my love of all things French and Napoleonic, I find the 'mutterings' you mention equally annoying, and certainly not because I'm British. I have been reading about the battle for 45 years and since a boy, have never read an account that didn't emphasize the crucial role of the Prussians. On the other hand, it was Wellington's choice to fight the battle on well chosen ground and he who asked Blucher to join him there. Also Wellington was commander in chief on the ridge and the non British speaking troops were under his command.

      I often wonder why the 'German' fans don't take credit for Napoleon's loss in Russia as they constituted roughly 1/3 of the Grand Armee. But, Napoleon was commander in chief and any loss was his responsibility. And of course the same applies to Waterloo.

      Lastly, I think it's interesting reading French accounts of the battle as they almost uniformly refer to the enemy on the ridge, not as 'the allies' or even 'the British' but rather 'the English'.

      It has been very interesting in recent years to read in more detail accounts from non British participants. Undoubtedly many important areas have been left out and exagerations and omissions are inevitable. The actions to the left of Wellington's position for example were always a bit of a mystery and particularly after D'Erlon's assault.

      I re-read Tim Clayton's excellent book on Waterloo recently. I think he does a fine job of filling in many of these omissions whilst remaining impartial.

      Comment


      • Nice to hear from you again Compans!

        In a nutshell (I have also read 'Waterloo The Truth at Last') all I can say is that they are like a Pike, get rid of the bones and the meat is an earthy richness.

        His Waterloo The Truth at Last is a proper hard-back, normal sized book, stuffed with information but whatever the truth is meant to be I can't quite see.

        Dawson brings some good bits of information to the fore but I admit, his prose are not the best by far. But then, It's those bits that interest me and not the rest of the waffle that we have heard over and over in the many hundreds of accounts of the battle.

        I'm part of this discussion on the book

        http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=464851

        Napoleons gods is a good history of the regiment and well worth owning if you can get around his writing style and the fact that as with his 'Au Pas de Charge' and 'Charge the Guns' tomes, the pages look like they have been run off a cheap printer and turned into book-form

        I don't like Clayton (a British Kiley) for his admitted 'love for the emperor'. Andrew Field's (Another Napoleon admirer) 'Prelude to Waterloo, Quatre Bras', 'Grouchy's Waterloo: The Battles of Ligny and Wavre' and his last one that I am reading now, 'Waterloo: Rout and Retreat' are very good and much better than his first book 'Waterloo: French Perspective'. which I have slated here and over on the TMP Napoleonic site (I along with two others, were banned for being too anti Nappy)

        Clayton's web-site states that his Waterloo
        tome "is widely acclaimed as the best book on the campaign" how wide they don't say. As far as I'm concerned, Husseys two part tour de force is the best telling of the Waterloo campaign to date by far.

        Clayton's latest book 'This Dark business' is out next month and I have it on order. You might know that It's about how the British attempted to assassinate Napoleon. This allegation has been the basis of many books but none have any evidence to back up the claim, 'even a British smoking gun' and I don't expect this book to have any evidence either. I just want to have a good read and hopefully join in a debate on here or the Napoleon Series website after I have read it.



        Paul
        Last edited by Dibble201Bty; 26 Jul 18, 15:51.
        ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
        All human ills he can subdue,
        Or with a bauble or medal
        Can win mans heart for you;
        And many a blessing know to stew
        To make a megloamaniac bright;
        Give honour to the dainty Corse,
        The Pixie is a little shite.

        Comment


        • I hadn't heard of Clayton's new book, but it sounds like it may be a good read. I think his prose is elegant and to the point. I liked his Waterloo book for concentrating much on Quatre Bras and Ligny. I didn't sense any French bias at all.

          One of the common characteristics of recent histories has been to follow the general trend we see everywhere at the moment from politics to the History Channel, in focusing on conspiracy theories. I guess Waterloo's always had its fair share but to suppose some definitive 'truth' can be arrived at is naive at best.

          I firmly believe that each age reinvents history to suit its own aspirations. As such history more often than not reflects the age it was written in more so than the age it purports to be about.

          Regarding Dawson, I got a very self published feel from the book I bought too. Another double edged sword of our age is that, although it's good in theory that anyone with a will and enough enthusiasm can publish, you wonder if an editor would pass much of this. He seems to have a degree in history but it doesn't make him necessarily a sound researcher or historical thinker. Judging from his writing (and I noticed repeated paragraphs and sentences that made little sense) one wonders how good his research is from French documents in a second language? This was one of the main questions I had with Andrew Fields, though speaking as someone who got a very poor grade CSE in French I admired his tenacity in trying to learn and translate the language despite his similar shortcomings.
          Last edited by Compans; 25 Jul 18, 17:31.

          Comment


          • I also like the way Clayton writes. Still, I do believe that the best of the new Waterloo books is John Hussey's two-volume study as well as Andrew Field's four books on the campaign.

            I won't spend money on Dawson as I have a few of his books and I found them poorly written, badly researched, and at least one error-ridden.
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Compans View Post
              I hadn't heard of Clayton's new book, but it sounds like it may be a good read. I think his prose is elegant and to the point. I liked his Waterloo book for concentrating much on Quatre Bras and Ligny. I didn't sense any French bias at all.

              One of the common characteristics of recent histories has been to follow the general trend we see everywhere at the moment from politics to the History Channel, in focusing on conspiracy theories. I guess Waterloo's always had its fair share but to suppose some definitive 'truth' can be arrived at is naive at best.

              I firmly believe that each age reinvents history to suit its own aspirations. As such history more often than not reflects the age it was written in more so than the age it purports to be about.

              Regarding Dawson, I got a very self published feel from the book I bought too. Another double edged sword of our age is that, although it's good in theory that anyone with a will and enough enthusiasm can publish, you wonder if an editor would pass much of this. He seems to have a degree in history but it doesn't make him necessarily a sound researcher or historical thinker. Judging from his writing (and I noticed repeated paragraphs and sentences that mad e little sense) one wonders how good his research is from French documents in a second language? This was one of the main questions I had with Andrew Fields, though speaking as someone who got a very poor grade CSE in French I admired his tenacity in trying to learn and translate the language despite his similar shortcomings.
              I have no 'bias' issues 'yet' with Clayton's works but I do his Napoleon fixation.

              Of course almost all of Dawson's books have 'issues' and smack of cheapness in their production but like I say, they do hold some good information in them, which as far as I'm concerned, was worth the money.

              I notice that the font size is all over the place in my last posting....how strange!

              Paul
              ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
              All human ills he can subdue,
              Or with a bauble or medal
              Can win mans heart for you;
              And many a blessing know to stew
              To make a megloamaniac bright;
              Give honour to the dainty Corse,
              The Pixie is a little shite.

              Comment


              • Phew... 44 pages over a couple of days. I now have a very extensive reading list to go through. Thank you for this thread.

                I'm currently reading "Of Living Valour" By Barney White-Spunner. I was wondering if anyone had read it? If so what are your thoughts on it?

                Comment


                • I have the book and have had it since its release in 2015, but I haven't read it yet. His Horse Guards book is very good so I suppose Of Living Valour should be at least well written.
                  ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                  All human ills he can subdue,
                  Or with a bauble or medal
                  Can win mans heart for you;
                  And many a blessing know to stew
                  To make a megloamaniac bright;
                  Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                  The Pixie is a little shite.

                  Comment


                  • Walcheren to Waterloo is a new volume on the British campaigns in the Low Countries.

                    The subtitle of this volume is The British Army in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815. The author is Andrew Limm.

                    I received it last week in the mail and while going through it (quickly and not thoroughly yet) found a few interesting passages:

                    'Indeed, such is the proliferation of books on Wellington that students new to the subject might be forgiven for thinking that he, rather than York, was Commander-in-
                    chief of the Army and that the forces he commanded, in the Iberian Peninsula and at Waterloo, constituted 'the' British army. On the contrary, Wellington did not become Commander-in-Chief until 1842 and neither did he command 'the' British army in the Iberian Peninsula or at Waterloo-these armies were in fact expeditionary forces which were despatched for specific purposes.'


                    'Moreover, in focusing so much attention on Wellington's Iberian victories, historians have largely ignored the poor recored of the army in other theatres of war over the course of the wider period 1793 to 1815. Unlike their victorious record in Spain and Portugal, the British struggled to achieve success in the Low Countries and were defeated on several occasions over the course of the period. Characteristic failings made by the British in the Low Countries in 1793-1814 included: lack of coherent strategic thinking regarding aims and means; poor military planning; over reliance on unreliable intelligence reports; lack of accurate maps; breakdowns in civil-military relations; disrespect on the part of the British army for the actions and fighting qualities of Allied forces; and the inability of the British officer corps to identify, analyse and learn from past mistakes.' 4-5.

                    The author brings up a point that I disagree with in that he does not believe that the British army changed during the period. That is an incorrect statement and perhaps he missed the development of British light infantry and the introduction of rifle armed battalions in the British army of the period.

                    But, the bottom line is that when Wellington wasn't commanding, the British usually lost.

                    And the book is well-sourced from a variety of source material-archival, primary, and credible secondary sources.

                    And Limm's study and overall conclusions coincide with the conclusion of John Elting in Swords Around a Throne, Chapter XXV, page 507:


                    'Wellington's triumphs in Spain were all the more dear to his countrymen because earlier British campaigns-Flanders in 1793-1795; Holland in 1799; Spain and Italy in 1800; Naples and Hanover in 1805; Buenos Aires, the Dardenelles, and Egypt in 1806-1807; Spain and Sweden in 1808; and Holland again in 1809;-were a series of disasters, hasty scuttles, and pratfalls. The only real successes had been the 1801 Anglo-Turkish overwhelming of the isolated French in Egypt and the extrication of the almost equally isolated Junot from Portugal in 1808. And even in those two cases, the French had secured terms that allowed them to go home with some swagger. Add that until 1813 Wellington's position in Spain was frequently precarious, with as many retreats as advances, and that Suchet beat off all British attempts against Eastern Spain, and there is evidence enough why so many Frenchmen still had hope of victory in 1814 and 1815.'


                    And when the British should have been winning in North America in 1814, they came off badly, losing one battle and fighting to a draw in the two battles on the Niagara peninsula and being badly defeated in the siege of Fort Erie and being forced to withdraw northward. They were also defeated at Plattsburg and were slaughtered at New Orleans.

                    There is new scholarship besides this volume on the British army of the period and their operations which are all valuable to understand the problems the British faced in Spain and Portugal, as well as Holland. Some of them are:


                    -Wellington's Guns by Nick Lipscombe.

                    -Triumphs and Disasters: Eyewitness Accounts of the Netherlands Campaign 1813-1814 by Andrew Bamford.

                    -The British Invasion of the River Plate 1806-1807 by Ben Hughes.

                    -Wellington's Eastern Front: The Campaigns on the East Coast of Spain 1810-1814 by Nick Lipscombe

                    -A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise: The British Army in the Low Countries, 1813-1814 by Andrew Bamford.

                    -Wellington's Engineers by Mark Thompson.

                    -Wellington's Worst Scrape: The Burgos Campaign 1812 by Carole Divall.

                    -Wellington and the Siege of San Sebastian 1813 by Bruce Collins.

                    -The Lines of Torres Vedras by John Grehan.

                    I have all of these, and more on the British army of the period, in my personal library and I would highly recommend all of them for study and reflection.


                    This looks to be an interesting volume and a valuable addition to the material on the period.
                    Last edited by Massena; 11 Dec 18, 19:36.
                    We are not now that strength which in old days
                    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                    Comment


                    • Lipscombe's Peninsular War Atlas has received good reviews but I was wondering whether it covers the entirety of the war or follows only the British ?
                      I wanted something full of maps to complement The Spanish Ulcer by David Gates.

                      Comment


                      • It's a comprehensive Atlas of all the events from July 1807 through to April 1814. It covers all the main belligerent forces of Portugal, Spain, France and Britain. The small actions as well as the major engagements. if you have the Gates Spanish Ulcer, or specifically Oman's 7 volume Peninsular War tomes, it will complement them in a grand style. The only setback in reading the maps is the military unit Icons where the dark blue of the French is almost indistinguishable from those of the Spanish, which is black. I don't know if this has been remedied in later editions of the book.
                        Last edited by Dibble201Bty; 22 Jan 19, 19:00.
                        ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
                        All human ills he can subdue,
                        Or with a bauble or medal
                        Can win mans heart for you;
                        And many a blessing know to stew
                        To make a megloamaniac bright;
                        Give honour to the dainty Corse,
                        The Pixie is a little shite.

                        Comment


                        • The Forgotten War Against Napoleon Conflict in the Mediterranean by Gareth Glover

                          00488535.jpg

                          Comment


                          • Hard to find anything on Suvorov, only book I was able to find

                            Eagles Over the Alps: Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland, 1799 By Christopher Duffy

                            0024ba5c.jpg

                            Comment


                            • On a similar note as before, does Esposito and Elting's Atlas covers N and his battles only, or the entire French Army ?
                              None of the books I have ever show good maps for Napoleon's invasion of Russia, his retreat and War of the Six Coalition.
                              I hope movements of his marshals are covered somewhere in maps if not in this book.
                              Massena

                              Comment


                              • The Esposito/Elting Atlas covers all of Napoleon's campaigns and the maps for the campaigns, as well as the battles, are excellent. I have found this volume to be the best operational study, both maps and text, of Napoleon's campaigns.
                                We are not now that strength which in old days
                                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                                Comment

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