Waterloo, By Jeremy Black


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The Independent Culture

Despite a few striking details, this is mainly a sober consideration of strategies and the reasons for the French defeat. For blood and guts, you'll have to go elsewhere.

Like Hitler, Napoleon worked wonders in bringing defeat on himself. He lacked urgency, energy and information. His "situational awareness" was poor and he failed to control the headstrong Marshal Ney.

Worse of all, he "lacked numerical superiority" due to the bolstering of the 70,000-strong British by 60,000 Prussians, propelled into Belgium "because Napoleon's political strategy in 1815 was a nonsense".

Jeremy Black admits that the Duke of Wellington's presence at the heart of battle "certainly had an impact," The Duke later said: "I never wish for any more fighting."