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"Best Peter Hofschroer Waterloo book to start with" Topic


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03 Apr 2021 6:53 p.m. PST
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Au pas de Charge02 Apr 2021 9:01 a.m. PST

Just read the Osprey Campaign on Leipzig 1813 and now started Lützen & Bautzen 1813 and enjoyed his writing style. I wanted to get one of the larger more serious books from him but he seems to have 4 or 5 on Waterloo.

I already know about the Waterloo campaign and I dont have to start books on the subject in order. Also, Although I want to buy all of his books eventually, wanted to read the best one first.

Thus, from those who have read his books on the Waterloo campaign which is the best of his books to start with?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 9:28 a.m. PST

The Lutzen and Bautzen volume is noteworthy for barely mentioning Drouot's large battery at Lutzen which was instrumental in the French victory. It's deployment under Drouot massed French artillery against the allied center and the short-range artillery fire literally destroyed the allied center and was followed up by a decisive assault by the Guard infantry.

There is also mention of 'Marie-Louise's' for the French conscripts in the volume, which was not done until 1814.

And Waterloo was not a 'German victory' but an allied one.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 10:04 a.m. PST

beer
popcorn
beer

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 11:02 a.m. PST

OFM +1

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 11:49 a.m. PST

Start with the first one, Charge. It was written before the "Author Wars" started and is better balanced- his bias against Wellington is restrained and the arguments used to support his theories are more coherent. If you can get a topographical survey map of the battlefields it will help you to understand some of the arguments better, and in deciding as to whether you agree with them.

In the second book you can see that PH's bias against Wellington and the British has been cranked right up by the vitriol directed at him (it was very difficult to have him wind back that bias, even a little, for book 2) and he doesn't present his case as coherently as in the first.

Note- I was one of the proof readers for both the books and counted Peter as a friend, so I have a level of bias about the books myself. There's a lot of good information in those books, if you don't let the controversy of criticising Wellington mask it.

Peter has a few enemies on this board, so take every opinion with a pinch of salt, mate. Even mine.

Cheers.

ConnaughtRanger02 Apr 2021 1:44 p.m. PST

Why?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 2:10 p.m. PST

Do a TMP search on Hofschroer.
Then a regular Google search.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 3:29 p.m. PST

You could apply the same mechanism to 'trump' … juz sayin'…

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 5:21 p.m. PST

Why what, CR? Take opinions with a pinch of salt? All us old cynics do- most people should.

Why the vitriol over the first book? He dared to present a case that Wellington had been less than honest about his part in the 100 Days campaign (to be fair, Wellington's accounts were produced well after the battle, when memories may have been "polished"). PH also showed that the Prusso-German influence on the battle was greater than many English-language sources detail- the popular myth that "the English beat Napoleon at Waterloo" was dissected in detail.

The poster asked about the Waterloo books. I'm not talking about later events- they are unrelated with which of the two Waterloo books (putting aside the Siborne book) is best read first. All the rest- his arrest, conviction, etc, can be found on the net. If not, someone here will be delighted to bring it up.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 5:24 p.m. PST

PH also showed that the Prusso-German influence on the battle was greater than many English-language sources detail- the popular myth that "the English beat Napoleon at Waterloo" was dissected in detail.

He failed to cite a single source for any of that. Literally not one.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 5:30 p.m. PST

Whatever you say, 4C. Goodbye.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 6:18 p.m. PST

Years ago before I knew much about the Napoleonic wars, I read a book by a chap named David Hamilton-Williams called Waterloo, New Perspectives. As an unaligned American, I was unaware of the controversy surrounding this book and author, also related to the role of the Prussians in the battle.

Later I ran across PH, but it was not long before his personal issues became public and left me feeling like I would rather find another writer. It seemed like a difficult start for me in selecting books, but then I discovered Chandler and focused on earlier battles.

With the bicentennial, the I felt like the large selection of Waterloo books became a flood. But I found a couple of newer books I strongly recommend on Waterloo.

One book is simply called The Battle by Alessandro Barbero. Well written, not too long, and perhaps, dare I say it, objective. The other is called The Longest Afternoon, by Brendan Simms. These books gave me a profound sense of being at Waterloo.

I am still waiting for someone to write a decent modern book on Leipzig, rather than read PH. I am not sure how Waterloo came to dwarf Leipzig in terms of numbers of volumes written. But any battle fought by half a million men resulting in 120,000 casualties surely deserves at least as much attention. And I think it is not unreasonable to consider that this was the end for Napoleon, despite his brief comeback in 1815.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2021 6:32 p.m. PST

Note- I was one of the proof readers for both the books and counted Peter as a friend, so I have a level of bias about the books myself. There's a lot of good information in those books, if you don't let the controversy of criticising Wellington mask it.

This is my feeling exactly. You can still pull plenty of fantastic info from the books, regardless of the bias (which is hard to miss). I would also strongly recommend his Osprey MAA on the Army of the Lower Rhine. It really lays out the dire state of much of Blücher's army, typically providing concise details at a battalion level regarding deficiencies in clothing, equipment, and arms.

Musketballs02 Apr 2021 9:05 p.m. PST

Torterella: For Leipzig, you probably can't do any better at the moment than Nafziger's 'Napoleon at Leipzig'.

It's just been republished in paperback, and well worth the money.

Au pas de Charge03 Apr 2021 6:36 a.m. PST

@Dal Gavan

Start with the first one, Charge. It was written before the "Author Wars" started and is better balanced- his bias against Wellington is restrained and the arguments used to support his theories are more coherent. If you can get a topographical survey map of the battlefields it will help you to understand some of the arguments better, and in deciding as to whether you agree with them.

Considering I have read several books on Wellington where the bias is in his favor, I doubt one book with anti-Wellington bias would change my my opinion. I am more interested in a good, gingery read than anxiety ridden precision. I'll leave that sort of concern to the librarians.

In the second book you can see that PH's bias against Wellington and the British has been cranked right up by the vitriol directed at him (it was very difficult to have him wind back that bias, even a little, for book 2) and he doesn't present his case as coherently as in the first.

I take your point but it still wont matter with me. I am unlikely to become dysfunctional in my day-to-day because the Duke is roughed up a bit. I like the Duke and I have it on good authority that he thinks I'm alright too.

Note- I was one of the proof readers for both the books and counted Peter as a friend, so I have a level of bias about the books myself. There's a lot of good information in those books, if you don't let the controversy of criticizing Wellington mask it.

I probably wont remember the vast majority of what I read and wont discuss it with anyone (except, perhaps, the gym staff.) Therefore, unless the bias is bizarre (ex. The Duke had help from extraterrestrials), I am unlikely to let it spoil a good narrative.


Why the vitriol over the first book? He dared to present a case that Wellington had been less than honest about his part in the 100 Days campaign (to be fair, Wellington's accounts were produced well after the battle, when memories may have been "polished"). PH also showed that the Prusso-German influence on the battle was greater than many English-language sources detail- the popular myth that "the English beat Napoleon at Waterloo" was dissected in detail.

I like a little controversy as long as the writing is well done.


All the rest- his arrest, conviction, etc, can be found on the net. If not, someone here will be delighted to bring it up.

I dont see this as relevant. After all, Ive read Mein Kampf too and look what that author was guilty of.

Au pas de Charge03 Apr 2021 6:41 a.m. PST

@Musketballs


Torterella: For Leipzig, you probably can't do any better at the moment than Nafziger's 'Napoleon at Leipzig'.

It's just been republished in paperback, and well worth the money.

Now see, I cant read Nafziger without falling asleep. He is like a sort of dry data dump. I think I am using his 1812 book on the Russian invasion to prop up an item of furniture.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2021 7:26 a.m. PST

I support Dal Gavan and Enfant perdus….and Au pas de charge……

Anyone who doesn't like Hofschroer's books because of his latter history is cutting off their nose to spite his face….that and David Hamilton-Williams….there is a lot of good info there as well as interpretation…so don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2021 8:11 a.m. PST

Dave, I agree. Most people who distrust Hofschroer have done so since long, long before the later exposure of his paedophilia, which doesn't bear much on his reliability as a historian, and his mental health issues, which do.

His views on the evidence presented about him at his criminal trial, and on the evidence presented by other historians about the Duke of Wellington's decisions in and after 1815, are very similar. In both cases, a very severe offence against truth and justice have been perpetrated by a conspiracy of others, with himself as the sole truthful witness.

It's absolutely correct to mention Hofschroer and Hamilton-Williams in the same breath.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2021 10:34 a.m. PST

I have found that a person's honesty and character in one facet of his life is generally reflected in all facets.

I met a certain deceased sci-fi writer at a party once, and he was personally rude and obnoxious to me. I applied my evaluation of his character to his work that I had previously purchased, and found it pretty well matched. So I decided to deprive him of all future royalties that would come from any purchase from me. Take that! I may have deprived him of $3.79 USD over his lifetime.
It's the principle of the thing. I have no Napoleonics, and certainly no Prussians. My boycott would affect him even less. They look like the most boring of all Napoleonic armies, which is not a high bar.

Hofschroer has achieved the difficult task of making Kevin look like an Anglophile by comparison. Uncanny.

Prince of Essling03 Apr 2021 1:10 p.m. PST

Though not modern, for Leipzig:
"Befreiungskrieg 1813 und 1814 : Einzeldarstellungen der entscheidenden Kriegsereignisse. V Band. Feldzug von Leipzig; nach den Feldakten und anderen authentischen Quelllen bearbeitet in der kriegsgeschichtlichen Abteilung des k. und k. Kriegsarchivs"
von Maximilian Ritterv. Hoen k. und k Oberst des General Stabskorps unter Mitarbeit von:
Hermann Sallagar k. und k Oberst des General Stabskorps
Dr Anatatol Ritter v. Neumann-Spillart k. und k Hauptmann des Infanterie regiments nr 98
Maximilian Ehnel k. und k Hauptmann des Infanterie regiments nr 14 und
Edmund Glaise v. Horstenau k. und k Hauptmann des General Stabskorps
Printed Vienna 1913
To read you will need either full access to Haithi or be able to simulate USA location. link
There are 5 Volumes in total dealing with 1813 but only up to and including 19th October. Clearly more volumes were planned to cover 1814, but World War I unfortunately came along.

Allan F Mountford03 Apr 2021 1:29 p.m. PST

@Prince of Essling
Thank you for the link.
Any idea why copyright is preventing access? There are many other German language works on the Beifreiungskrieg freely available on archive.org, Gallica, Google Books, etc. What is so special about this Austrian account?

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2021 2:03 p.m. PST

Yes, thank you Prince. I opened the link, did not try to read yet, hopefully will work.

And thank you AuPas for your post opening this line of discussion!

I ordered the Nafziger book on Leipzig, will prepare for the deep dive.

John, while your taste in true country music may be impeccable, you may be missing the boat on Napoleonic armies, in my opinion!

Surely the Grande Armee is one of the most innovative and fascinating military organizations in history. From its colorful leaders to its tactical and strategic innovations, equipment, incredible uniforms, size, organization and performance, it ranks at or near the top I would think. Whatever you think of Napoleon, his army was superb for much of the era.

ConnaughtRanger03 Apr 2021 2:14 p.m. PST

What is it about Americans and Bonaparte Fanboy worship?

Prince of Essling03 Apr 2021 3:07 p.m. PST

@Allan F Mountford,
Afraid no idea why – there are also many other books on Haithi which in theory should be freely accessible but are not. So again have to access either via full Haithi membership or resort to USA simulation.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Apr 2021 6:52 p.m. PST

Peter has a few enemies on this board, so take every opinion with a pinch of salt, mate. Even mine.

I would remind you that Peter was tossed out of TMP multiple times for his unhinged behavior, including multiple troll accounts posting childish nonsense. He earned his bad reputation here.

As for his writing, I have only read one of his books, and found him to be obsessed with details to the detraction of the narrative.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2021 7:26 p.m. PST

I don't know ConnaughtRanger – I do not represent my country on this matter! I think it has something to do with Colonel Elting's book "Swords Around a Throne." And those battles the French won. And all those Marshals of France – good and bad, a wild bunch! Or the Corps system. Or maybe the field guns. Or the ambulances. Or the tactics. The supply system. Communications – love that signal telegraph! And so on….

It's my opinion of the French army as a response to John the OFM's remark about the low bar for armies of the era. But I could be wrong since I still can't even figure out which books to read!!

von Winterfeldt03 Apr 2021 11:02 p.m. PST

for Hathitrust you need a US – IP – which is a pity there sometimes they have books not available elsewhere, otherwise try to google them and find alternative sites.

Best book to read for sure those two volumes of

Stéphane Béraud . La révolution militaire napoléonienne, so far two volumes, 1 Les Manoeuvres, volume 2 les batailles.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2021 4:15 a.m. PST

What is it about Americans and Bonaparte Fanboy worship?

Good grief. That is one of the silliest comments I have read on this forum. It is not only silly, but ludicrous in the extreme.

ConnaughtRanger04 Apr 2021 5:14 a.m. PST

Is "ludicrous in the extreme" better or worse than "tripe"? Just trying to understand your value system?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2021 9:26 a.m. PST

Oh, I tried to collect and paint Napoleonics twice. 15mm British. Since I was always the latecomer to that party, both in college and back at home, I took what was left. If I were ever truly interested beyond just being polite and contributing, I think I would have stayed with them.
But I sold them to a good home. Twice. They let me play with their toys since nobody else did 25mm AWI.

Too many unpronounceable battles in campaigns I couldn't be bothered to follow. Like I said, low bar. grin

You either like it or you don't. For instance, I've never bothered to learn card games. Not poker, not bridge, not vingt-et-un.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2021 9:27 a.m. PST

Kevin has a keyboard shortcut for "ludicrous in the extreme". Something like alt F8 Z.
He uses it all the time.

ConnaughtRanger04 Apr 2021 10:17 a.m. PST

I thought alt F8 Z was his "Perfidious Albion" shortcut?

Au pas de Charge04 Apr 2021 12:31 p.m. PST

Good grief. That is one of the silliest comments I have read on this forum. It is not only silly, but ludicrous in the extreme.

Unh, let him howl.

Considering Napoleon is the most written about person, it couldnt be any one culture that enjoys reading about him; apparently everyone does. I might add, some of the best books on Napoleon are written by British writers.

ConnaughtRanger04 Apr 2021 1:22 p.m. PST

"..some of the best books on Napoleon are written by British writers."
Wash your mouth out!

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2021 1:22 p.m. PST

Very well said, Pas de…

And, yes, some of the best Napoleonic literature is written by British authors and historians-John Grehan, Mark Thompson, Andrew Field, Nick Lipscombe, Andrew Bamford, and others.

And usually the books are published by British publishers.

Au pas de Charge05 Apr 2021 9:09 a.m. PST

@Brechtel

Well, it has been my experience that the better British Military intellectuals love to discuss Napoleon for better or for worse.

I dont know what nationality has to do with it. Although it could be a form of projection where the subject believes that because they view the topic through a nationalist prism, everyone else must also do. However, I don't know why Americans would care about Napoleon either way. I think the answer can be found in the idea that being neutral towards Napoleon is tantamount to being a "Fanboy"

In any case, it seems that just about every country seems to want to read about Napoleon. In fact, there must be a new book on Napoleon published every hour. Maybe a small handful dont like the fact that that is the case but c'est la vie mon bibi.

For my part, I couldn't possibly buy or read all the books on either Napoleon or the Waterloo campaign which is why I wanted a recommendation on which PH book on the topic is best to start with.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2021 10:55 a.m. PST

Hofschroer has been busted on at least three lies in his Waterloo books.

The first is that he alleged there was a meeting at Tirlemont where strategy was discussed. Hussey and others show that the notes of those present make no mention of strategy, and that the meeting was about readiness and supply.

The next lie is that Wellington knew of the French attack at 9am on the 15th and did nothing, and he cites Pflugk-Harttung in support. In fact the latter explored this and concluded 9am was when the news was sent, and didn't reach Wellington until 4pm. So this claim rests on a knowing misrepresentation.

The next claim was that Wellington misled the Prussians as to his ability to help them at Ligny. The despatch in question that promised support was in Prussian hands for all of about 90 minutes before Wellington arrived at Ligny to discuss and update the Prussian command on the situation in person.

These are the outright falsehoods, but in addition there are the deliberate omissions and studied misrepresentations.

He fails to mention that it was I Corps that was tasked with watching the Brussels road, and simply abandoned it on the 15th without notice to Wellington that nobody was now watching it (hence his rarely-parsed remark, that evening, that Napoleon had stolen a day's march on him – how had he managed that, exactly?).

He claims the French broke in Plancenoit at the same time as they broke on the ridge, but fails to explain why, if so, there were still artillery overs from Plancenoit falling on the Brussels road, a mile south of the ridge, when Wellington broke them again. At this point, of course, the French were still fighting in Plancenoit, and broke because the rest of the army had done so.

He claims there were 50,000 Prussians on the field by the end of the battle. In fact about half arrived after the battle. Some attacked Wellington and those that attacked the French were held off by about a third of their own number.

He claims the Prussians did most of the fighting after Waterloo. In fact, after Waterloo the Prussians went on a looting spree, and French units fought to prevent this. Wellington's army did not loot and faced next to no resistance. It would be more accurate to say that the Prussians caused most of the fighting after Waterloo.

His claim of "German" victory rests on headcount and distance marched, not contribution. He does not define German, and overlooks the fact that "Germans" in 1815 had the worst desertion problem (an entire Corps sent home); lost every battle they fought without Wellington; and did most of their marching in headlong retreat.

His claim that Prussia received inadequate credit overlooks the Waterloo Despatch.

Those are the just the most egregious flaws in the 18 June narrative, but Hussey notes others. For example, the claim that the 18th Regiment attacked the Old Guard who then ran away is entirely capable, based on the sources used, of having happened the other way around: the Old Guard ran away, and the 18th then followed up. This is quite a bit more likely, given what was going on behind the Old Guard at this point. It is the kind of glib, factual elision Hofschroer likes to misrepresent as meticulous research.

So to the original question – which is least bad – the least bad is probably whichever one covers Wavre. As an undisputed all-Prussian defeat, there's no ally to blame or credit to misappropriate so the scope for hofstory is limited (which doesn't mean it's any more trustworthy).

The thing about Hofschroer is that he's sui generis in a bad way. I quite often disagree with Kevin Kiley, but he is a proper historian in the sense that anything he says, he has a source for and he's arrived at his point legitimately. I could probably find half a dozen misapprehensions in his books, where I think he has misconstrued, or placed IMHO the wrong emphasis, or made an honest mistake, or missed an important source. Nobody's 40,000-word book is ever free of this. What he will reliably not do is have no reason to have said any of this; or make stuff up out of whole cloth; or draw fanciful inferences of his own that he insists his sources support, when they don't. No decent historian does any such thing, but Hofschroer does little else.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2021 3:58 p.m. PST

Not my interest, any longer, but you can't beat the value:

link #
Price: £5.00 GBP
- -

Au pas de Charge12 Apr 2021 6:39 a.m. PST

I bought a new version. For hygienic reasons, I generally avoid used books. I look forward to reading it' the consensus is that he is a very good writer who has fallen afoul of some sacred cows like Wellington etc.

Certainly, it will be refreshing to get a fuller understanding of the Prussian contribution to the campaign.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2021 6:45 p.m. PST

>> I generally avoid used books.

Haha thats taking paranoia to a new level. Must be from Michigan, or Texas, Flooreeedaaa… ok I jest.

As a sometime unpaid tech support I'd generally avoid user keyboards- utterly disgusting contents and tacky coverings, and thats just the old bleeders…

von Winterfeldt12 Apr 2021 11:08 p.m. PST

I love to buy used books, usually very good value for money.

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