From the internationally best-selling author of the Sharpe novels and in the bicentenary year of the battle - this is the true story of Waterloo.
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.
©2014 Bernard Cornwell (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Praise for Bernard Cornwell:
"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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
outstanding book and narrator
listen to it now and celebrate the bi centenary in June
I felt I was living the battle in this excellent and we'll researched audio book. Cornwell States that a good story bears retelling and this is ever true here. I also found the post script letters to be emotional, some more of the emotional experience would have made this 5/5
If you want history to be interesting then ask Bernard Cornwell to tell the story. As he says himself, the story of Waterloo tells itself; but it doesn't hurt to have the author of the legendry Sharpe novels help it along. This could easily be a novel and not a factual telling of real events.
I think as an Englishman, you have to say the Duke of Wellington (I mave just spoiled the ending).
The unbeaten vs. the unbeatable.
If you only read one history book, this is it
Absolutely, while brief, this history is one of the best overviews of the battle of Waterloo that I have read. I am no academic scholar, but having visited the battlefield several times, as well as having read numerous histories on the battle itself, Mr. Cornwell's history is by far and above the one of the best accounts so far. For those familiar with Bernard Cornwell's writing, he does not disappoint in his first work of nonfiction. His writing flows easily page after page,and he does not get bogged down in details like so many other authors.
Mr. Cornwell used letters and diary entries from soldiers in the ranks as well as officers and the generals to give the reader a sense of the time and place, and to truly bring these real people to life
Being nonfiction, this work is a narrative of a battle and dialogue is not used except when quoting letters home, of which there are very many. Dugald Bruce Lockhart is an outstanding narrator, and his narration is a perfect fit for this book.
I did have an emotional reaction to this book. Having been a soldier myself, I could relate to certain aspects of the battle, the story of which, in Mr. Cornwells capable hands, becomes much more than a list of units and movements, but a visceral struggle between real people with real emotions
I wish this book was bit longer because of the pure joy of reading his work, but it is quality rather than quantity that counts. Mr. Cornwell should continue to pursue his nonfiction writing (as well as fiction of course), as it is truly top-notch.
I enjoy history and particularly books on the First and Second World Wars. I also enjoy novels based on the period and modern day combat.
The narrative brings the battle into all it's bloody hell. A superbly researched construction of a close run victory that ensured the end of the Nepolian era.
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