Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Review: Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon by Rory Muir

This is a great book.  It really covers everything you can think of regarding Napoleonic warfare and then some.  In fact, it covers a lot on the "experience" side of the story.  In addition to good chapters on how armies are organised and how each of their arms of infantry, cavalry and artillery operate, the book also has extensive detail on the night before and after the battle, what is happening behind the front lines on either side, what happens to either side in the days following a battle, medical services, prisoners and commanders at all the main levels.

What did I like?
There was a lot of information about the individual workings of the different arms in the heat of battle and often examples of what different nations did.  The additional stuff mentioned above, particularly the night before and after the battle was really good to read about as it opened my eyes to the context of the battle being read about and reminded me that they combatants were human with families and friends.

What did not like?
While the author did draw on memoirs by both sides of the story, they was a lot more emphasis on the English in the peninsular.  I understand there is more english memoirs for this period than english language memoirs from the rest of the period, but it did seem at times to be a little pro-english.

I would like to have seen diagrams of actual deployments and actions to reinforce the text.

Should you read it?
If you want to get a fairly neat book covering absolutely everything in addition to the combat on the day of battle, then this is a good book.

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