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"David Chandler's "Waterloo, the hundred days"" Topic

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John Edmundson26 Dec 2018 1:01 p.m. PST

A friend of my wife's gave me a copy of this for Christmas that she'd come across in a second hand bookshop. I've never read a book on Waterloo, as opposed to sections in broader histories, before. Is it still considered pretty good (published in 1980) or are there some pitfalls I should be aware of?

Thanks in advance and season's greetings to all


coopman26 Dec 2018 1:26 p.m. PST

Chandler is a very well respected Napoleonic era historian. Start reading!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP26 Dec 2018 1:32 p.m. PST

Hang on.

You have never read a book on Waterloo and you are of an age to be wed?

Welcome to you, a Hundred Days Virgin….

That is not at all a bad start, if a bit Anglocentric (Heck there are few publications that are not so…and the fate of he who was not so and must not be named is subject to her Majesty's pleasure. He is incarcerated and let us leave it at that)

Encourage your wife's friend……nice pick.

Next choice Jac Weller. He got me going in 1971 (actually that sounds a bit weird…I mean his book). Wellington at Waterloo is less authoritative, but actually a much more exciting read

John Edmundson26 Dec 2018 5:46 p.m. PST

Thanks very much for the input. I thought he was still widely respected but wanted to be sure. I know there have been a number of more recent, and often somewhat controversial, titles on the subject so just wanted to make sure I was not being too misled. I can adjust for the Anglocentrism – I am Irish after all :-)

My problem is I still haven't finished The Poisonwood Bible, have the three Thunder on the Danube's and Kingdoms of Faith (a book I just received on medieval Andalusia and Christian Spain) etc etc to read. But I have to confess, I've already read the Introduction and the start of Chapter 1.

My wife added that her friend is also of marriageable age …

Lord Hill27 Dec 2018 4:53 a.m. PST

Pretty much any Waterloo book written in English pre-21st Century is, in hindsight, ludicrously Anglocentric and jingoistic. I enjoyed Chandler's Hundred Days, Keegan's Face of Battle and Howarth's Near Run Thing when I was a child/teenager but these days there are some much more balanced and thorough accounts.
However, this doesn't seem to have stopped a constant spewing out of yet more lazy books on Waterloo over the last 10 years, most of them just a quick cash-in on the bicentennial. I wouldn't mind if these books contained just an iota of new research, just ONE trip to Kew to dig up something interesting that has never been published before (it only takes a day), but no, instead they just regurgitate the same old tired check list of secondary sources.
Mercer (ALWAYS ONLY MERCER!) talking about shaky Brunswick squares.
Morris talking about being attacked in square.
Gronow's tall tales of the Guards
Wheeler's account of light infantry work on the west flank
Clay's account of defending Hougoumont (often misquoted)
etc etc

Here endeth the rant.

Trajanus27 Dec 2018 1:00 p.m. PST

Keegan's "Face of Battle" isn't about Waterloo it just has a section about the experience of warfare at that time using the battle as an example. It also has sections on Agincourt and the Somme but it's not about them either.

The books about similarities and differences in battle experience over 500 years and how this was not addressed by historians as a whole who just wrote about dates and Generals, rather than what it was really like to be in a battle.

Nine pound round27 Dec 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

It's a little hard to be objective about Waterloo: it was an epochal event.

The British view of it is not, however, without merit. No British army had yet faced the instrument of Napoleon's main army in force: they had not yet seen cavalry in anything like the masses or the quality that they faced at Waterloo, and they had never faced faced French artillery in the quantities, weights, and quality that Napoleon threw at them. There were plenty of Peninsular generals, but fewer experienced British troops, and their allies were not so experiened or as habituated to service in an integrated army as the Portuguese had been. And even if Napoleon fought the battle with second-string generals, his army was better than any he had led since 1812. He wasn't at the top of his game, but he was still Eurpoe's greatest soldier, and capable of carrying off stunning surprises and winning victories as complete as any he had won in the old days.

By all odds, he should have beaten both the Prussians and the Anglo-Allied army, but he did not. The reason why takes a lot of explaining, and I'm not sure that anyone has hit it perfectly yet- even two centuries after the event. I am inclined personal view to attribute pride of place in this accomplishment to The Duke, who was not his equal as a general- but I don't know that I have ever found an explanation that satisfies me completely.

John Tyson27 Dec 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

I too have David Chandler's book "Waterloo, the Hundred Days" as well as several other books by this fine author. Mr. Chandler is probably most known by his authoritative book "The Campaigns of Napoleon." I also have a several other books on the Battle of Waterloo as well.

One of my favorite books is, "Men of Waterloo" by John Sutherland. This is a most readable and enjoyable book. It almost reads like a novel. There a few maps or pictures, but this book puts you into the battle. Some knowledge of the battle is preferable, but again, this is about the men in this epic battle. I've read "Men of Waterloo" probably six or seven times. It's that good.


God bless,
John T.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

That, from Nine Pound Round, must be the best short synopsis of the whole campaign, but even more of its historiography, that I have ever read.

Beats many books

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2018 1:48 p.m. PST

That must be the best short synopsis of the whole campaign, but even more of its historiography, that I have ever read.

Beats many books

Nine pound round27 Dec 2018 9:22 p.m. PST

Thanks- very kind, and much appreciated.

JARROVIAN Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

I liked Anthony Brett-James, 'The Hundred Days', which covers the campaign from eye witness accounts. Unfortunately it's as rare as hens teeth.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2018 4:38 a.m. PST

Try here:


von Winterfeldt29 Dec 2018 6:24 a.m. PST

in case you like edutainment, then it is a good read, for more recent books, go for Gareth Glover

dibble Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2018 4:36 p.m. PST

Had my copy since it was first published. I read it a few times but haven' read it again in years, but I believe that I have quoted from it on this site in the past. On reflection though, It's a very good and well illustrated book on the subject for those who need to 'Sorry for the crude pun' break into the subject.

Paul :)

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