I am a fan of Cornwell's historical/adventure novels. According to the blurb, this is his first non-fiction title. And that topic, as the subtitle suggests, is enormous. Cornwell manages to keep the narrative moving reasonable briskly - testimony to his superlative powers as a storyteller. The reader seeking the true story need not worry that Cornwell fails to take the role of historian seriously - he does. Excellent maps and illustrations helped me follow this complex, fascinating tale.
The contrast in reviews is interesting to me since I think they represent two types of people drawn to historical nonfiction. I belong to the first group....don't like battle details (boring) but do like the politics, repercussions, personality profiles of important figures and their major interactions.
I just don't care for shot by shot depictions of battles. I am far more interested in the politics - that leading up to the battle, and the political implications of the result, and speculation on what may have happened had things gone otherwise. Long detailed narratives of who did what to whom on which ridge put me to sleep.
Cornwell's first foray into nonfiction is well written and well researched and has a narrative feel to it. The human element is added by having letters and diary entries from people who fought in the battle. You realize how close the battle came to being lost.
If you can, get hold of the DVDs that were made of this series starring Sean Bean. If you enjoyed the books, you will love the movies!
If you've read any other of Cornwell's books, you will have come to expect excitement; lots of action, gore and guts; and stories that authentically fit the time frame in which they are set. Cornwell has written a slew of books that star the character Sharpe. This is the first one I've read in this series --- I'm quick to get in line for others in the series.
Cornwell's specialty is histric fiction --- this time Napoleon's last battle. He has returned from his exile on Elba and is making his last attempt to retake Europe. The name of the battle has become virtually synonimous wikth defeat: Waterloo. The losses on both sides were immense --- once again the flower of a generation spilled its blood on the battlefield. Read this epic and you'll realize what a near thing the whole affair was. Wellington and his forces could easily have failed to take the day.
Enjoy the book --- read it all up --- and then head on out to your library for more!
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