The Long Shadow Of Waterloo. Myths, Memories, and Debates.

The Long Shadow Of Waterloo. Myths, Memories, and Debates.

Timothy Fitzpatrick.
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4 Mushroom Heads
The author Timothy Fitzpatrick has put together a fantastic collection of chapters in this book each focusing on a different aspect of the battle. It examines the conflict through the eyes of many of different nationalities and divergent motivations.

It was an education for myself having read a number of books over the years on the subject, it quickly became apparent to me that I had rather accepted the initial narrative, in this case Wellington's “Waterloo dispatch”.

To see the battle through Prussian or French eyes is to see a very different battle, in conduct, outcome, implication, and National identity. I’ve stood on the Lion mound unaware of the deep divisions that it’s construction caused both at the time and since. The shadow cast by the battle is long and complex. None of its participants escapes the author's gimlet eye. Napoleon and Wellington least of all.

The battle itself was the culmination of a century of warfare for Britain, the following century would see its implications played out across the globe. Britain for its part played down the part its Allies played and played up the role of its phlegmatic Red Coat. Napoleon spent his time in exile writing a treatise on how his subordinates (Marshall Grouchy in particular) had been the cause of his defeat.

The book is punctuated not only by the names of it most famous participants, but also by household names who used its legacy in many different ways, Clausewitz, Jomini, and even Victor Hugo. Whilst physically a narrow volume the width of questions it addresses are huge.

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