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Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles    by Bernard Cornwell order for
by Bernard Cornwell
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In his latest book, Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles, Bernard Cornwell poses the question that many people will probably be posing. 'Why another book about Waterloo?' he asks. 'There is no shortage of accounts of the battles indeed it is one of the most studied and written-about battles in history.'

Answering his own question, Cornwell continues that there are dozens of books available about the campaign and battle. What is missing, though, is 'a book that tells what it was like to be there on that awful day'.

Cornwell is the author of numerous best selling historical novels, and this volume is his first attempt at non-fiction. Feeling compelled to try to write the story of this incredible clash of armies, the author wanted to capture, in recreating the conflict, the experiences of the men and women who were present on the battlefield.

Beginning with Napoleon's escape from his exile in Elba and his triumphant arrival in Paris, Cornwall recreates the events that eventually bring three military leaders - Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington and Blucher - into conflict.

In the summer of 1815, the French beat the Prussians at Ligny and fight the British to a stalemate at Quatre-Bras. Then, with the Allies in retreat, they turn to fight at the little village of Waterloo on June 16-18. The resulting conflict has been called one of the most significant battles of the 19th century in Europe and it changed the balance of power on the continent.

The release of this lavishly illustrated volume coincides with the 200th anniversary of Waterloo and offers those who are not familiar with the event the opportunity to get up to speed. This highly readable narrative not only sets the scene and fleshes out the main characters, but it also captures the drama of the struggle as the story unfolds to its dramatic conclusion.

Not only is this an excellent and very entertaining book for a young person not well read in major historical events, but it offers an opportunity to gain insights for those older individuals who may have only a cursory knowledge of Waterloo gleaned from a few pages of a college history text.

It you'd like to meet Waterloo at this juncture in your life, I can't think of a better guide to take you there than Bernard Cornwell!

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