This book is subtitled 'The Making of a Military Genius', and I could not gainsay whether he was or wasn't, but the author makes a convincing argument in his favour.
Now, this is not a conventional biographyather a dissection of Wellington's abilities as a General and politician, and concentrates on his tactics and military acumen, as well as his early life.
The book was inspired by a portrait of Wellington, post Waterloo, in which he is clutching a telescope. It was originally planned, by the artist, Sir Thomas Lawrence, that Wellington should hold a pocket watch, but Wellesley demurred, saying 'paint me holding a telescope if you must, but not a watch'. He had enquired of the artist why a watch is shown, and when informed that it depicted him waiting for the Prussians at Waterloo, Wellington objected strongly, the implications being that he was desperate for the arrival of that force. This does show an insight into Wellington's thoughts, that he was reliant on others and that was likely to be to his detriment.
The book proper begins with an eoarly campaign, that of the British in India fighting the Sultan Tipoo in 1799. It was Wellington's first real taste of battleen as a 29 year old Lieutenant-Colonel of the 33rd Foot, a comission purchafsed for him by his older brother, he attacked a defended wood at night, without proper - indeed any - intelligence, and was routed. This could, and should have been the end of his military career, and British history would be very different, but his fellow officers and superiors elected to give him another chance. Not entirely out of altruistic reasons, as his brother, Lord Mornington, was the Governor-General. However, it was a wise choice.
The book follows and analyses the career of Wellington,in some detail and is extensively and wonderfully researched. It is not a dry text, but a very accessible and intersting book. One that gives fresh and new insights into what made this great officer.
The author, Huw.J.Davies, is a lecturer in Defence Studies at King's College, London
and the Joint Services and Staff College Defence Academy, so I suspect he knows of what he speaks.
I would award 4 mushrooms to this book.