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"B. Cornwell's Waterloo" Topic

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Personal logo green beanie Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2018 6:48 p.m. PST

I have read and enjoyed B. Cornwell's "Sharp series of books and Redcoats series" of books. I have noticed he has written a historical Waterloo book and was wondering if any here has read it and what you thought of the book?

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Feb 2018 6:52 p.m. PST

I thought it was good. If you like his writing style, you will enjoy it. Of course twenty nay Sayers that did not read it are going to come in and criticize it because he got some tiny detail wrong in someone's uniform in book 4 of Sharp, causing them to stop reading it and having contempt for anything else he has written.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2018 7:28 p.m. PST

He got uniforms wrong in his first 'Sharp's Eagle'….Still! I read all of them up to and including 'Sharpe's Waterloo'.

Paul :)

marshalney2000 Inactive Member28 Feb 2018 10:48 p.m. PST

I found this book riddled with mistakes and some of a very basic nature. There are a lot better books on Waterloo out there.

Lord Hill28 Feb 2018 11:20 p.m. PST

I have to say my heart fell when I received Cornwall's Waterloo from a well-meaning relative at Christmas.
Although I enjoyed reading the Sharpe series as a child, to say I'm not a fan as an adult is an understatement.

HOWEVER, I actually think the book on Waterloo isn't bad. There's nothing new there (no new research etc) for a Waterloo obsessive, but as an introduction for the general reader I think it has been impressively put together -
extremely interesting and well-written.

Texas Jack01 Mar 2018 1:22 a.m. PST

I hated it. I managed to finish it, but not without many a cringe.
There were for me two problems with this book. The first being that I am not in the target audience (a problem most TMPers will share). The book is very simplified, more like a Waterloo primer than anything else. Of course it is hardly Mr Cornwell´s fault that I chose too basic a book.
The second problem is much worse. The book is very poorly written. The style is condescending, juvenile and tediously trite. This book is probably better suited for the youth market.

42flanker01 Mar 2018 1:40 a.m. PST

It's not a question of a uniform detail being incorrect in book four (You know you're posting on TMP, yes?) but rather that the Sharpe books are essentially fantasy.

Their setting in a version of the Peninsula War will either appeal or not. I knew after two pages, reading about Sharpe's special sword and Harper's special rifle, that it wouldn't, and that I would rather be in Kansas.

GarryWills01 Mar 2018 3:12 a.m. PST

I have read and enjoyed all the Sharp books and the non fiction Waterloo title. I think the issue is that the nature of the errors he makes in the non fiction work suggests that while he may have a broad based understanding of the Napoleonic Wars, his understanding is not very deep. However, this is only what you would expect from a historical novelist who ranges across history from anglo saxon england onwards. To compare his work with that of a Napoleonic specialist, such as Hussey is missing the point to some extent. There are certainly lots of better Waterloo books.

parrskool01 Mar 2018 3:15 a.m. PST

Best account of Warterloo from a UK perspective is:
Wellington: the Years of the Sword by Elizabeth Longford (Vol.2 in her biog. of Wellesley)

mildbill01 Mar 2018 3:40 a.m. PST

You say that like being in Kansas is a bad thing…. I have lived in Kansas most of my adult life and though there are several things that could be better, there are plenty of worse places to live. Besides, the wargaming is great here.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2018 3:49 a.m. PST

I wonder if the Kansas referral was to Judy Garland and Toto the dog……….WoO movie…….

If Cornwall's book gets one more kid to pick up something and read it………. Fine. Good for him. It is a start

marshalney2000 Inactive Member01 Mar 2018 4:30 a.m. PST

John Hussey's two volume work on the Waterloo campaign is to me the new template. It covers so many areas 8n detail that I have not seen covered in other books except as a passing reference.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2018 4:39 a.m. PST

I am sure you have seen recent discussion a bit lower down that largely agrees with you;

TMP link

42flanker01 Mar 2018 5:30 a.m. PST

mildbill, I believe you are confusing Kansas with Philadelphia.

For my part, there's no place like home.

von Winterfeldt01 Mar 2018 5:53 a.m. PST

Their setting in a version of the Peninsula War will either appeal or not. I knew after two pages, reading about Sharpe's special sword and Harper's special rifle, that it wouldn't, and that I would rather be in Kansas.


foxweasel01 Mar 2018 6:20 a.m. PST

Historical fiction is generally written for normal people, if it only appealed to history professors the authors wouldn't make much money. Similarly, Cornwells book on Waterloo is written for the average man in the street, the sort of person who likes Sharpe. If both get people interested in history that can only be a good thing. There's a few inaccuracies, so what, the sort of experts who already know shouldn't be reading it anyway.

USAFpilot01 Mar 2018 7:02 a.m. PST

As an average person, I enjoyed reading the book even more than some of his works of fiction which I have read.

Private Matter01 Mar 2018 7:08 a.m. PST

Being the TMP you can always expect the hyper-critical to rise to the top. My opinion, (and I state it is my opinion and as an opinion it can not construed as absolute fact as some on this forum would have you believe their opinion is absolute fact) is that the book is a pleasant read and a good introductory to Waterloo. As Cornwell himself is clear to point out that it is not an exhaustive historical research piece, but rather as some on this thread have already pointed out, a solid primer. If you want something to introduce you to the battle then by all means get the book and enjoy the read. Then if you want to better understand the minutia of the battle and delve deeper into details then by all means pick up Hussey's book.

42flanker01 Mar 2018 8:03 a.m. PST

"Being the TMP you can always expect the hyper-critical to rise to the top."-

Has anyone been hypercritical, or merely expressed a strong opinion that diverges from yours?

No buttons mentioned so far.

appropriate emoticon

PJ ONeill01 Mar 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

I am not a Napoleonic enthusiast. I read some books on the battle but did not really understand it until I read the Cornwell book.

RebelPaul Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2018 8:44 a.m. PST

I have and read the book years ago. Very good portrayal of the battle. He does not shrink from the gore!

eddy195701 Mar 2018 9:24 a.m. PST

The Waterloo book is the only book from Cornwell I didn't finish. No special reason, it could not hold my attention.

Texas Jack01 Mar 2018 9:34 a.m. PST

I think there may be some confusion over what book the OP is asking about.
The book in question is the non-fiction book on Waterloo that Cornwell published in 2015, rather than the Sharpe book published in 1990.

von Winterfeldt01 Mar 2018 11:59 a.m. PST

I agree – there Cornwell is one of the most boring reads of all time, at least for me, no way to burn my money on any of his books.

Private Matter01 Mar 2018 12:53 p.m. PST

Before I respond, 42Flanker, I typed that on my phone and I apparently dropped off the end of the comment that you quoted. It should have finished with " expect some severe comments." I'm not sure what happened so sorry for the change in meaning of what I intended to post. However, there are a couple of comments stated as though they are fact when in actuality they are opinion. Eeddy1957, Texas Jack, and von Winterfeldt made their point that they did not care for the book in a manner which makes it perfectly clear that it is their opinion. Even though my opinion differes from theirs I respect it because it is their opinion. There is a distinct difference in the phrase 'this book is poorly written' and 'I found this book to be poorly written.' One implies a fact and the other an opinion. "A fact is a statement that can be proven true or false. An opinion is an expression of a person's feelings that cannot be proven. Opinions can be based on facts or emotions…" Stating opinion as fact is a pet peeve of mine on TMP and elsewhere on the web. Stating opinion as fact leads to needless confrontation and is dismissive of other opinions. I know that when we speak we can get away with more because our body language, voice inflections, and even tone convey the true meaning of our words. When we write, even on the internet, the only way truly convey the true meaning of our words is by choosing them in a careful and appropriate manner. (I feel this is a fact that can be argued) To me it seems most people, however, don't do this and quickly type out what ever comes to mind. (this is an opinion and can't be argued). Now that I've ranted way too much on this subject (which is an opinion most would I assume share) I'll shut up on the matter.

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2018 2:35 p.m. PST

I thought the book was a good read, but was a bit surprised by some errors given that the author must have done considerable research into the era. So overall not bad in my view, but not highly recommended.

Lieutenant Lockwood01 Mar 2018 3:49 p.m. PST

At the risk of sounding immodest, I'd suggest my novel, Lieutenant and Mrs. Lockwood. In his review, Bob Burnham over at he Napoleon Series said it's the best fictional account of Waterloo he has ever read. My publisher says that I need to do more self-promotion, so….well…there it is.
regards……Mark Bois

Private Matter01 Mar 2018 5:10 p.m. PST

Mark Bois – I will get your book. Which version pits more money in your pocket; Kindle or Paperback?

pbishop12 Inactive Member01 Mar 2018 5:40 p.m. PST

I've been reading Napoleonic history since the '70s. And while it may not be historically accurate, so what? Cornwell is always to fun read for me. I"m sure Seven Men of Gascony was flawed, but again, a good read. Better than burying myself in some mind numbing facebook….

42flanker02 Mar 2018 3:52 a.m. PST

" Better than burying myself in some mind numbing facebook…."

I'm sure those aren't your only options!
…are they?

Marc at work02 Mar 2018 5:43 a.m. PST

My 23 year old medical student son enjoyed it, so that makes it a good book IN MY OPINION as a primner. It is probably not my "go to" book on the battle but, TBH, what is – there are so many choices these days. Not that long ago it used to be Chandler.

Maybe I will stick to my Patterson Blick version…


Lieutenant Lockwood02 Mar 2018 8:28 a.m. PST

Private Matter; Please don't concern yourself, the royalties are very similar. I do, however, value the opinions of like-minded gentlemen, so your feedback would be most welcome.
The novel is based on the lives of an officer of the Inniskillings at Waterloo, and his family back in Ireland. I hope you enjoy it! Best…..Mark

Lieutenant Lockwood02 Mar 2018 8:32 a.m. PST

btw, a shout-out to mildbill and the Kansas contingent. I'm an old Kansas man myself, my wife is from Goodland, and I miss the big skies, open roads, and what once was.

Private Matter02 Mar 2018 12:22 p.m. PST

Mark, The book has been ordered via Amazon.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2018 1:22 p.m. PST

In my younger days I enjoyed the Brigadier Gerard books, seven Men of Gascony, Death to the French and the Sharpe Books. But five years ago or so, I tried rereading the Gerard books but just couldn't get into it. I suppose that literature, like politics, change in people as they get older.

By the way! Just to make it clear, I haven't read Cornwell's Waterloo book. I have god knows how many other books on the battle, his will not I'm sure, move my knowledge of it any further.

Paul :)

Korvessa02 Mar 2018 1:54 p.m. PST

So what are these mistakes people keep alluding to?

I have read – and enjoyed – a number of his books. But haven't read this one.

GreenLeader Inactive Member03 Mar 2018 2:58 p.m. PST

I read it and enjoyed it. If anyone can point out the glaring errors in it, I'd appreciate it.

foxweasel03 Mar 2018 3:20 p.m. PST

I don't think that there are any major ones, I just agreed that there are a couple to keep the rivet counters happy.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2018 6:09 p.m. PST

My post pertaining to errors were those regarding uniforms in the Sharpe novels.

Paul :)

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member05 Mar 2018 7:29 a.m. PST

I smuggly stand validated! Thank you people. You've been wonderful.
: )

Texas Jack06 Mar 2018 10:56 a.m. PST

Well I must say it was clever of you to put yourself in the position that if anyone didn´t like the book you could say "I told you so." evil grin

Pete Fry06 Mar 2018 12:13 p.m. PST

I enjoyed the Waterloo book a lot. I am currently enjoying the Sharpe series – especially the original books rather than the later fillers – but I like them too.

I like his writing style – the action and the gore. The Waterloo book was accessible and had some interesting perspectives. I'm not knowledgeable enough to be offended by any inaccuracies.

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