Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Waterloo - the Downfall of the First Napoleon" Book Review

Battle of Quatre Bras
George Hooper's "Waterloo - the Downfall of the First Napoleon" was originally published in 1862. I was fortunate to get a good copy of the 1890 revised new edition at a second hand bookshop last week.  Weighing in at 345 impressive pages, compete with five fold out maps and appendices, this comprehensive description of the last battles of the Emperor is a joy to read. Drawing on earlier texts from Captain Sibourne and Colonel Charras as well as other accounts, Hooper seeks to correct earlier errors and provide a comprehensive, readable account of the campaign of 1815.

The book is divided in two parts. The first deals with the return of Napoleon, the set up of the campaign and examines in detail the events of the 14th - 18th June. Careful consideration is given to the plans and thinking of both sides of the battles as well as reflections and retrospectives at certain points.

The second part of the book deals with the Allied invasion of France and the capture and exile of Napoleon.

Finally, the appendices deal with the various OOB of the armies involved as well as a nice little piece on "Could Grouchy have saved Napoleon?".

Overall, it seems to present a reasonably balanced view of all the parties involved and contributions made by various nations. It highlights errors made by leaders from all sides as well as what was done well. I found it easy to read and informative. There are a number of small maps of smaller parts of the action, but no other illustrations.

Amazon has some reprints of the book at a modest price. The image on the right links to the page where you can order a copy.

Google has digitised some versions for limited preview and there seems to be some modern reprints. The scans didn't do the maps well. I think I will scan the maps in when I get a chance and put them up on the blog. They are not as detailed as others, but provide a good illustration of the texts.

If you can find a copy, get it. Its a handy little tome for anyone interested in the era.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review Karim. I sounds interesting. Another to add to the reading list for our bicentennial battles in 2015!