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On the 18th June, 1815, the armies of France, Britain, and Prussia descended upon a quiet valley south of Brussels. In the previous three days the French army had beaten the British at Quatre Bras and the Prussians at Ligny. The Allies were in retreat.
The blood-soaked battle of Waterloo would become a landmark in European history, to be examined over and again, not least because until the evening of the 18th, the French army was close to prevailing on the battlefield.
Now, brought to life by the celebrated novelist Bernard Cornwell, this is the chronicle of the four days leading up to the actual battle and a thrilling hour-by-hour account of that fateful day.
In his first work of non-fiction, Cornwell combines his storytelling skills with a meticulously researched history to give a riveting account of every dramatic moment, from Napoleon's escape from Elba to the smoke and gore of the battlefields. Through letters and diaries he also sheds new light on the private thoughts of Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington, as well as the ordinary officers and soldiers.
Published to coincide with the bicentenary in 2015, Waterloo is a tense and gripping story of heroism and tragedy - and of the final battle that determined the fate of Europe.
"Cornwell's narration is quite masterly and supremely well-researched." ( Observer)
"The best battle scenes of any writer I've ever read, past or present. Cornwell really makes history come alive." George R.R. Martin
"Bernard Cornwell is a literary miracle. Year after year, hail, rain, snow, war and political upheavals fail to prevent him from producing the most entertaining and readable historical novels of his generation." ( Daily Mail)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By John W on 07-16-15
A little loose and undramatic
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Probably wouldnt recommend this to a friend, no. It jumps backwards and forwards in time, repeats minor details with aggravating regularity, and even misses out key parts of the battle in order to focus on minor events. The story rambles back and forth between dramatic scenes and entirely bland stock information. It becomes entirely impossible to feel engrossed in the battle as precious little is seen from the perspective of those involved. The author spends too much time arguing about how much of his own writing is affected by conjecture and hearsay - a tendency which entirely removes the listener from the drama. Even though there are a lot of interesting facts thrown into this story - it is told in a very dry manner, with the narrator giving no indication of excitement at key points in the battle. I couldnt help but feel that, had the story been written by someone like Anthony Beevor, it would have contained far more cutting drama, more chilling facts and more intense and descriptive narration.
Would you be willing to try another book from Bernard Cornwell? Why or why not?
As I understand it, this is one of Cornwell's first forays into Non-Fiction. I certainly hope that he involved more intensity in his description of events in other works, because the visualisation of events in this audiobook are very weak. I never felt involved at all. I'd give his other stuff a try. He seems to be a decent enough writer, with good control over the facts, but he seems simply unwilling to chain together events in a dramatic manner, instead choosing to whip back and forth between (sometimes minor) events.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
The period when the battlefield was being populated and the placement of the troops was intriguing. This was were Cornwell shone. He managed to keep the listener interested during this sequence to really get an idea of where everything was. Its a shame that the battle itself, and the destruction of the regiments involved, was not translated with more vigourous grammar.
Could you see Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?
Well, Waterloo certainly has already been a film, and would benefit from being revisited by someone who has excellent control of CGI - but I think it would have to feel a lot more dramatic, panoramic, vicious and personal than this interpretation.
Any additional comments?
If you have a spare credit it might be worth a listen - but if you are looking for the close up action of war, this will a rather dry listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 02-25-15
It rattles along.
A concise telling of the battle of waterloo and it does a cracking job. It does enough to encourage more investigation into events of the battle and the history of Europe at the time.
The narrator keeps things lively without going wild at important events.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful