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Swords Around A Throne by John R. Elting

Swords Around A Throne

by John R. Elting

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199388,654 (4.16)3

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This is an exhaustive reference with quite good prose about the Grand Army of Napoleon. The Illustrations in black and white are adequate, but would have been magnificent in Colour. There is a good deal about the administrative services, the engineers, and other seldom researched areas. The book also includes information about the Former and succeeding French national armies. The prose is clear but not sparkling and overall this is a fitting companion to Oman's "Wellington's Army" for present-day Peninsulars. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Dec 19, 2015 |
This was a recent find in a used book store and it's been my companion off and on for the last three months, since it's a big book, one for dipping into or for research and reference purposes. John Elting was one of the great amateur military historians of the 20th century. He was amateur only in the sense that he was not an academic. He served a long and distinguished career in the US Army that began in the 1930s, when artillery were still pulled by horses. There are anecdotes of him helping other historians analyze a problem from military history and calculate the time it would take for troops, horses and guns to make a river crossing, based on his own personal experience. He was an unabashed admirer of Napoleon and of his soldiers. Readers won't find any deep understanding of European geopolitics in this book but they will come away with a sound understanding of what it meant to carry a musket and pack in Napoleon's army - a soldier's history through and through. A European friend of mine, for whom English is not his first language, noted that he had to dictionary at his elbow when reading this book, since Elting was fond of peppering his book with Army slang that has long fallen out of use - young officers are "shavetails" and difficult and delinquent soldiers are "yardbirds" and "eight balls". Many chapters end with unforgettable and beautifully crafted tributes, and the last two paragraphs of the book are quite fine. I will keep this on my bookshelf for many years to come. Recommended for military and Napoleonic historians and for soldiers.
1 vote MadPadre | Apr 30, 2015 |
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"The Grande Armeé fought hard, seldom cheered, and always bitched."
Elzear Blaze, La Vie Militaire
To Anne, my wife, who--during the years of research that went into this book--sometimes declared herself the last widow of the Napoleonic Wars!
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On October 12, 1806, French cavalry sept abruptly through the little Saxon city of Zeitz, some 25 miles south of Leipzig.
Chapter I
All the King's Horses and the King's Men: The Royal Army

In the young days of Louis XIV it had been the world's finest army, the conquering graycoats of Condé and Turenne.
. . . All in all, the best comment on the Austrian officer corps was that of Queen Maria Theresa (1717-80), who was moved to create a new military decoration named after herself, to be awarded only to those officers who saved the day by disobeying their commanders' orders.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306807572, Paperback)

This authoritative, comprehensive, and enthralling book describes and analyzes Napoleon's most powerful weapon—the Grande Armée which at its peak numbered over a million soldiers. Elting examines every facet of this incredibly complex human machine: its organization, command system, logistics, weapons, tactics, discipline, recreation, mobile hospitals, camp followers, and more. From the army's formation out of the turmoil of Revolutionary France through its swift conquests of vast territories across Europe to its legendary death at Waterloo, this book uses excerpts from soldiers' letters, eyewitness accounts, and numerous firsthand details to place the reader in the boots of Napoleon's conscripts and generals. In Elting's masterful hands the experience is truly unforgettable.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:47 -0400)

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