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"Waterloo Books - Educate Me" Topic

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Buckeye AKA Darryl10 Apr 2015 5:58 p.m. PST

I am looking for some select books on the Waterloo Campaign. Not really looking for one title that covers all, but maybe three or four books that really break down the battle into various parts, parts driven more by what the Prussians were doing, what the British Allies were doing, etc. So books like "The Prussian Military Involvement in the 1815 Campaign" and "British Allies at Quatre Bras and Waterloo" and/or "The King's German Legion – Wellington's Saviors." Sorry, of course those are made up titles, but hopefully they will give you an idea of what I am seeking. Suggestions?

Camcleod10 Apr 2015 6:14 p.m. PST

A few books on the campaign and Battle:

'The Waterloo Companion' by Mark Adkins.

The three new Osprey Waterloo titles by John Franklin. Two are out, the third coming soon.

"The Battle of Quatre Bras 1815" by Mike Robinson.

'The Eagle's Last Triumph Napoleon's Victory at Ligny, June 1815' by Andrew Uffindell.

'Waterloo The French Perspective' by Andrew Field.

There are many more, Google Books has many older titles on the Campaign.


badger2210 Apr 2015 6:42 p.m. PST

How is Fields book? On my list but to busy buuying minis roight now. Worth getting in hardback or wait for papaer?

Artilleryman11 Apr 2015 3:15 a.m. PST

I have the Fields books on Waterloo and Quatre Bras from the French perspective. He has an entertaining style while being able to tease out the details in an illuminating manner. At this stage I did not believe there was more to learn about this campaign but Mr Fields has enlightened me. Both highly recommended.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2015 4:45 a.m. PST

My endorsement of the Field's book, too.

Sebastian Palmer11 Apr 2015 9:40 a.m. PST

Hi Darryl,

My personal favourite so far is Barbero's 'The Battle'. I also just read and really enjoyed The Longest Day, by Gerard Simms, a short and easy accout of the KGL's defense of La Haye Sainte.

Best, Seb

Brechtel19811 Apr 2015 9:53 a.m. PST

Both of Fields' books are worth having.

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2015 10:31 a.m. PST

Ah my favorite Battle and so many books that I could recommend; but here are a few;

The Waterloo Companion' by Mark Adkins a gold mine of tactical data including uniform info OOB etc. This my first go to book for data on the battle.

A good book from the Prussian perspective " 1815 The Waterloo Campaign: Wellington, his German Allies and the Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras." by Peter Hofschroer. Also, the separate version on Waterloo.

The History of the Waterloo Campaign by Captain W, Siborne, an old but goody that is full of detail. He conducted topographical studies shortly after battle and then interviewed/wrote to almost every battalion commander including the Prussians. He built a diorama based on the information he gathered, which is now located at the National Army Museum in Chelsea. He ran afoul of Wellington's contemporaries for accurately portraying the Prussian's significant role in winning Waterloo.

Peter Hofschoer wrote a book about the Siborne travails with Wellington's men over the interpretation of the battle; Wellington's Smallest Victory…a very interesting read.

Another oldy is Waterloo by Commandant Henry Lachoque, 1972. balanced but edging towards the French perspective. The battle is organized into distinct time blocks for ease of understanding. It is full of paintings, photos, maps uniforms plates.

Brechtel19812 Apr 2015 9:11 a.m. PST

Adkin's is definitely worth having, but it is not a definitive history of the battle and the artillery sections are poor.

Scott Bowden's volume is excellent and essential for any study of the battle. The orders of battle are invaluable.

Siborne's study of the campaign, as well as those by Houssaye and John Ropes, are all necessary for any good understanding of the campaign and battle.

Robinson's book on Quatre Bras is valuable for the allied side, but there is next to nothing on the French, and the otherwise excellent maps are therefore poor, as the French units ar.e not pointed out, only general locations of the French. The author's premise that Quatre Bras decided the campaign is neither demonstrated nor proven.

I have found that Franklin's Ospreys on Quatre Bras and Ligny to be poor, even as a primer. Too much is left out and casualties for both battles are not given. I do believe, though, that they should be read, if for nothing else than to see what is missing or in error.

Clausewitz's study, which is now in English, is also valuable. There are two 'versions' of this, and the one translated by Greg Pedlow is the one to get.

MoogieMite Inactive Member13 Apr 2015 8:05 a.m. PST

I also recommend Barbero's book.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2015 8:32 a.m. PST

I have to put in a plug for uncle Archie's book:


I know it's old but is still very readable.

Brechtel19813 Apr 2015 8:51 a.m. PST

I like it and have found it useful.

matthewgreen Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Apr 2015 8:54 a.m. PST

Another vote for Barbero. Field's two books are worth a read. I don't rate either author as having a deep knowledge of Napoleonic tactics and practices, and so make the odd mistake, but they draw the elements together well.

That leaves Ligny. Uffindell is OK. There doesn't seem to be enough on this fascinating battle.

For a good, high level narrative which covers the campaign details, Houssaye is hard to beat, in spite of its age. I often find myself using this as a reference.

Hofshroer is a useful adjunct, but flawed. He leans a bit to heavily on quotations from historical accounts (which are interesting) and does not weave them together well – and he tries to stoke up controversy a bit too hard.

Robinson is a ripping yarn from an allied perspective for Quatre Bras, but as brechtel198 suggests, his failure to bother with the French side of things stops it from being proper history. Field's is the best work on this battle.

There are many books from a standard British based perspective, but this is rather boring. The one that stirred up my interest in the battle in the first place in the 1970s was by David Howarth. A cracking read. Also in that category is the one by Andrew Roberts – well-written but lightweight.

Adkin is useful, especially the maps and OB – but not a complete history.

I haven't got to Siborne yet. But one day I will.

Marc the plastics fan13 Apr 2015 9:45 a.m. PST

And Wavee?

Michael Westman14 Apr 2015 11:59 a.m. PST

Another interesting (older) read is Ropes' "The Campaign of Waterloo." You can read it at link He covers topics such as Napoleon's orders during the campaign and Grouchy's doings on the 17th.

Marc at work15 Apr 2015 7:13 a.m. PST

Wavee??? What the heck. Sigh


Any good books?

Buckeye AKA Darryl15 Apr 2015 7:53 a.m. PST

Great list, and thank you all for the suggestions! I think I am going to start with Adkins and Hofschroer then progress from there. And I would like Bowden's book, but at $125.00 USD I think I'll hold off on it for a bit! :)

Sebastian Palmer15 Apr 2015 2:09 p.m. PST

As others have pointed out, Hofschr÷er often addresses the German/Prussian perspective, and personally I love his book about Siborne, etc. ('Wellington's Smallest Victory').

I recommended the Barbero book 'cause it's such a cracking good read. And in a similar vein I'd second Matthew Green's recommendation of 'A Near Run Thing', by David Howarth. My copy of the latter is a 1969 'literary guild' hardback edition, which I read for the 1st time today!

Perhaps neither this nor 'The Battle' quite answer your brief, re the other battles and the non-English allies/Prussian perspective. But for rip-snorting mud and blood fun they're hard to beat.

Sebastian Palmer15 Apr 2015 2:22 p.m. PST

@ matthew green – despite crediting him as his major source for authoritative detail, Howarth describes 'Captain Siborne's history … [as] the most detailed, authoritative and boring account of the battle ever written.'

I've got the CUP (Cambridge University Press) print-on-demand two-volume edition. I keep meaning to read it, but I invariably choose something else, even to the extent of buying yet more Waterloo books!

Maybe one day you'll buy it… Maybe one day I'll read it!

Lord Hill15 Apr 2015 3:34 p.m. PST

Mark Adkin for Waterloo – Mike Robinson for Quatre Bras. Both excellent and unsurpassable.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2015 6:47 p.m. PST

Man, those casualty figures really make the whole thing come together nicely.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2015 7:14 p.m. PST

Man, those casualty figures really make the whole thing come together nicely.

Wow, that is miles from what I posted. I can only imagine that on some other board somewhere people are wondering why I'm prattling on about why I like Barbero and nationalist bias in books about Waterloo and Napoleonic rules.

The Bug truly works in mysterious ways.

Ligniere Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member15 Apr 2015 7:15 p.m. PST

One that's not been mentioned so far would be 'On the Fields of Glory- the battlefields of the 1815 campaign' by Andrew Uffindell. It was written back in their 90's and that was probably when I lay read it. Possibly hard to come by now. There's another on my shelves by Albert Nofi, 'The Waterloo Campaign'. Little easier to come by perhaps.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2015 7:17 p.m. PST

Here's what I tried to post originally:

The best thing about Barbero is that he's Italian, so he has no patriotic axe to grind. He is pretty impartial, and notes good and bad work by troops of all nations present. And his style is quite readable.

An interesting contrast is "Waterloo: Battle of Three Armies." This book had accounts by a British historian, a French one, and a German. It's fascinating to jump back and forth between the respective author's description of the same thing. I came away with a deep appreciation of how skewed one-sided accounts can be. Often authors writing about their own countries' history tend to emphasize the brave acts of their own troops, not those of other countries. Which is natural, but leaves one with an incomplete understanding of what happened.

Now we are living in a golden age, with French, Prussian and Dutch-centric books about Waterloo to add perspective to all the Anglo-centric views that those of us who speak English are familiar with. Good stuff is coming out in English about the Russians's war effort and changing my view of that army.

So many books to read….

nsolomon9915 Apr 2015 10:18 p.m. PST

Another vote for "Waterloo: Battle of Three Armies" – great book and achieves a measure of balance through the inter-woven contributions of the 3 historians from the 3 primary combative nations.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2015 4:17 p.m. PST

After reading this thread and coming up empty on the library search, I requested my public library system add Fields' "French Perspective" ebook to their digital collection. Two days later and it's on my iPad!

Brechtel19817 Apr 2015 2:49 a.m. PST

Did you order both of Fields' books from your library?

Chouan Inactive Member17 Apr 2015 3:36 a.m. PST

This one looks interesting.

ForeverGame Inactive Member17 Apr 2015 5:33 a.m. PST

Barbero might be a good read, but he didn't do a good job researching the battle.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP19 Apr 2015 2:14 p.m. PST

Brechtel – no, just the "From the French Perspective," but I may request the other when I've finished this. Might as well. :)

Buckeye AKA Darryl29 Mar 2017 3:11 p.m. PST

I finally ordered Hofschr÷er's book on Quatras Bras and Ligny. I figure if I like that one I will buy his other tome.

John Miller Inactive Member29 Mar 2017 7:05 p.m. PST

If I was buying my first book on Waterloo I think it would be the Adkins volume. I know it has some problems as mentioned above by others more knowledgeable than myself but I thought it gave a pretty good picture of the what went on, (some inaccuracies not withstanding), was not too bias on either side, and was a pretty easy read. After finishing that I would go for other volumes mentioned here as their subjects got my interest, the French perspective, the English perspective, the Prussian perspective, etc. Collecting books and studying Waterloo could be a pastime all unto itself it seems. John Miller

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP29 Mar 2017 9:44 p.m. PST

Well gee, I will give a shout out for David Chandler's, "Waterloo: The Hundred Days"


4th Cuirassier30 Mar 2017 1:49 a.m. PST

A shout out here for Waterloo: Four Days that Changed Europe's Destiny, by Tim Clayton; Waterloo: The French Perspective, by Andrew Field; Wellington at Waterloo, by Jac Weller.

I have the Adkin book but it's not really a narrative of the battle.

Allan F Mountford30 Mar 2017 2:56 a.m. PST

I finally ordered Hofschr÷er's book on Quatras Bras and Ligny. I figure if I like that one I will buy his other tome.

You have bought the better of the two volumes. PH does a decent job narrating the opening moves of both sides (and I'm not getting into the von Ziethen aspects).

The second volume is notable mainly for an absence of coherent narrative on Waterloo itself.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP01 Apr 2017 9:16 a.m. PST

As a plain read with a focus on the experiences of the soldiers, Cornwell's Waterloo book is highly enjoyable.

It's mostly centered around the British but it gives a great "soldiers view".

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