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Review for Waterloo. Myth and Reality

Author : Gareth Glover

It is an under statement to say there have been many books written about Waterloo. I have over ninety on my bookshelves; the earliest in my collection was printed in 1896 and there is a steady progression up to the present day. Why read another one? My first reason is that I am a Gareth Glover fan. The second reason, which is what drew me to this book, is the intriguing sub title ‘Myth and Reality’.
Glover sets out to separate the two by referencing hugh amounts of primary source material; much of which the reader can access for themselves in ‘The Waterloo Archives’ [Edited by Glover and reviewed on this site]
The author really does succeed in his aim to dispel most of the myths which appear in so many books. He presents cogent arguments in favour of ‘reality’ and for every case he has the supporting evidence. Where there is certainty it is stated with conviction, where there is doubt the balance of evidence is presented. The method employed is to give the appropriate weight to any piece of evidence by asking who wrote it, when and why. He goes on to show how some received wisdom is the result of the uncritical acceptance of records of events written by participants, or long after the event by their supporters, wishing to put down on record the version which shows them in the best light.
Glover also criticises those historians who base their judgements of commander’s decisions made in the heat of battle, when those decisions were based only on information available to them at that time. The fog of war and the difficulty of clear rapid communication do not cloud hindsight but did hamper all levels of command at that time.
It is not a large book, only 245 pages, but of well written engaging text. The sixteen pages of illustrations are superb. In such an excellent book it is a shame that my usual criticism of many modern books applies here. The maps are not good, without scale, without the conventional military mapping differences between cavalry and infantry, and a fancy type face which does nothing to aid the reader.
Maps apart I believe that for every person interested in the battle of Waterloo this book is more than a ‘would like’ it is a ‘must have’.

Published by : Pen & Sword Military. Pen & Sword \Books \Ltd., 2014
ISBN : 978-1-78159-356-1

Review last updated : 2018-01-03 12:46:19

See also : other "Napoleonic Wars" reviews