Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
Two-hundred years ago in the year 1815, Napoleon was defeated at
the Battle of Waterloo.
With history usually being written by the victors, this famous
battle of the French against the combined forces of Prussia and Great
Britain has been told from various perspectives throughout the years.
Three armies with three battles over four days ended Napoleon's rule
over much of Europe. So why write another book about Waterloo?
Historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell decided that none of
these accounts truly reflected the actual battle. In his first
non-fiction book, Cornwell breaks this battle down into chapters with
accompanying maps detailing the placement and actions of the troops
as well as artistic paintings of the events, explaining both in a
readable version for the non-historians and military strategists
demonstrating that sometimes the portraits painted years after the
events were flawed.
This is a book for those who would like to better understand the
actual strategies, complications, problems, mistakes, weaponry,
uniform, communications and conditions and people which led to
Napoleon's ultimate defeat. Revealing the human faults such as
mistaking the uniforms as friendly forces, fighting in mud and a
battle fought not in a hilly area with ridges rather than a flat
plain, all became major factors in the battle.
It is difficult to imagine the actual battle scenes, but Cornwell
excels with this factor. As you read the book, you can easily
picture the fighting in the mud where oftentimes the killings were
layered on top of the already dead making movement of horses and men
This book is fascinating in the descriptions of the military
strategies. Cornwell describes these as a sort of “rock, paper,
scissors” methodology. It cavalry is used, the best defense is
...and so on. Imagining the weaponry of the time period and the
best offensive and defensive methods is intriguing. Having the
troops in a square was often the best as described.
"To stand firm because as long as the square kept its
cohesion then the French cavalry was impotent."
"Those squares could be broken by artillery if Ney had
managed to bring more guns close to the line, or he could have
destroyed them with infantry."
"That was the scissors, paper and stone reality of Napoleonic
warfare. If you could force an enemy to form square then you could
bring a line of infantry against it and overwhelm it with musket
Bernard Cornwell is a master storyteller well-known for grabbing
one small section of British history and turning the events into a
logical and readable novel which can be enjoyed by adult readers.
His Saxon Tales and Richard Sharpe novels are perfect examples of
well-developed characters bringing to light the events that resulted
in the Britain of today.
The book consists of twelve chapters each with a map explaining
the troop movements of that section and portraits of the major
players and events. Also included is a foreword, a preface, an
aftermath and an afterword besides the acknowledgments, bibliography,
From Cornwell's story of Sharpe's Waterloo, he realized that the
battle of that particular novel overtook the plot. Realizing the
immense importance of how these few days shaped Europe, Cornwell
created this non-fiction book based on the various perspectives of
Waterloo is for adult
readers who would like to better comprehend the Napoleonic Wars and
Europe in the year 1815.