The battle of Talavera was the Duke of Wellington's first major victory on Spanish soil, after two successful campaigns in Portugal. Operating alongside a Spanish army commanded by General Cuesta, the allied armies defeated a series of French attacks on their positions at Talavera and forced the French to pull back towards Madrid. The battle had disappointing long term results, as the arrival of French reinforcements forced Wellington to retreat back to Portugal, and his difficult relationship with Cuesta coloured Wellington's view of the Spanish army for the rest of the Peninsular War, but it did prove that the British were a real threat to the French position in Spain.
Chartrand is partially good on the difficult relationship between the British and Spanish high commanders, with a good understanding of the problems faced by the Spanish and the fundamentally different war aims of the two new allies. There is also good material on the arguments within the French high command, where Victor, Jourdan and King Joseph each had their own ideas on how to fight the battle (or indeed if to fight at all).
The account of the battle itself takes up about half of the text, with the rest taken up by the normal Campaign chapters, looking at the background to the battle, the opposing commanders, forces and plans. The book is as well illustrated as one would expect from Osprey, with excellent maps and a good selection of contemporary illustrations as well as the Osprey colour plates. This is a good shorter history of this important step in Wellington's career.
Origins of the Campaign
The Talavera Campaign
The Battlefield Today
Author: René Chartrand