The Battle of Waterloo: A New History

By Jeremy Black MBE

Published by Icon Books Ltd (2010)

The battle on Sunday 18th June 1815, near Waterloo, Belgium was to be Napoleon's greatest triumph - but it ended in one of the greatest military upsets. Waterloo became a legend overnight and remains one of the most argued-over battles in history. This title presents a reinterpretation of this seminal event in modern history.

With fresh details and interpretations, Jeremy Black places Waterloo within the context of the warfare of the period, showing that Napoleon’s modern army was beaten by Britain and Prussia with techniques as old as those of antiquity, including close-quarter combat. Here are the fateful early stages, from Napoleon’s strategy of surprise attack—perhaps spoiled by the defection of one of his own commanders—to his younger brother’s wasteful efforts assaulting the farm called Hougoumont. And here is the endgame, including Commander Michel Ney’s botched cavalry charge against the Anglo-Dutch line and the solid British resistance against a series of French cavalry strikes, with Napoleon “repeating defeat and reinforcing failure.”

More than a masterly guide to an armed conflict, The Battle of Waterloo is a brilliant portrait of the men who fought it: Napoleon, the bold emperor who had bullied other rulers and worn down his own army with too many wars, and the steadfast Duke of Wellington, who used superior firepower and a flexible generalship in his march to victory.

With bold analysis of the battle’s impact on history and its lessons for building lasting alliances in today’s world, The Battle of Waterloo is a small volume bound to have a big impact on global scholarship. 

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