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Review for Napoleon's Peninsular War

Author/Director : Paul Dawson

Format : Book

In Paul Dawson’s book we have an altogether different view of the Peninsular War. The sub-title is an accurate summary of the contents namely the French experience of the war in Spain 1808-1809. It was Napoleon’s war but he spent less than three months in Spain. The substance of the book is the correspondence, both official and personal, which passed back and forth among those involved in the campaign. It makes for some fascinating reading, some real insights into the other side of the coin and the reality of soldiering for both sides in a gruelling war. What I found interesting was the nature of the private letters home. It may be a reflection of the author’s selection but they were far more military focussed than the equivalent letters sent by British. For the French no mention of fox hunting or parties.
Paul Dawson claims to be pro-Napoleon but for me the message of the book and the Peninsular campaign is anti-Napoleon. He failed to give the necessary authority/power to anyone but himself so that his marshals disagreed and failed to cooperate. Napoleon’s attempt to micro-manage from a distance was also a failure. The first hand evidence has been brought from the archives, some for the first time, which makes this book rather special and a very good read.
We warmly recommend it.

Published by : Frontline Books, 2020
ISBN : 978 1 52675 409 7

Review last updated : 2021-04-12 10:49:22

See also : other "Napoleonic Wars" reviews