Waterloo: The Decisive Victory, ed. Colonel Nick Lipscombe

Waterloo: The Decisive Victory, ed. Colonel Nick Lipscombe

This volume is made up of ten chapters by ten different authors, each looking at a different aspect of the Waterloo campaign. There two main benefits to this approach. The first is that we get high quality chapters that focus on key elements of the battle in some detail - the section on the main Allied and French cavalry attacks is one example, as is the chapter on the Prussian role in the battle. The second is that we get chapters on topics that are normally skipped over or only covered very briefly. These include the first and last chapters, looking at the state of Europe in 1814-15 and Napoleon's aims in the Waterloo campaign and the aftermath of Waterloo and its long term impact on European history, and the interesting chapter on the validity of eyewitness accounts of the battle. 

The downside is that you don't get a single clear account of the battle itself - although the main battle articles do cover the key topics, they overlap more than they mesh. I would have liked the book to include a simple narrative of the battle to provide that clear framework, before moving on to the more detailed chapters that look at the complexities of the main events of the battle.

The book is splendidly presented, with a wide range of illustrations, mainly taken from contemporary paintings and prints, and a series of useful maps, including a number of contemporary and near-contemporary maps.

This is an excellent multi-author work on this famous battle, providing a series of excellent articles on key elements of the fighting as well as a good examination of its background and its impact.

1 - The Waterloo Campaign: The Strategic Background, Jeremy Black
2 - The Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras: Napoleon's Lost Opportunities, Julian Spilsbury
3 - The Commanders, Philip Haythornthwaite
4 - The Battle: The Armies, their Weapons and Tactics, Mark Adkin
5 - Waterloo Eyewitnesses: Different Perspectives, Natalia Griffon de Pleineville
6 - Hougoumont and La Hay Sainte: Points d'appui or Pivotal Bastions? Nick Lipscombe
7 - The Cavalry Charges, Ian Fletcher
8 - The Prussian Army at Waterloo, Charles Esdale
9 - La Garde Recule! Napoleon's Last Throw of the Dice, Andrew Field
10 - The Legacy of Waterloo: War and Politics in Europe in the 19th Century, Huw Davies

Editor: Colonel Nick Lipscombe
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2014

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