Waterloo: June 18, 1815, The Battle for Modern Europe by Andrew Roberts

Waterloo by Andrew Roberts is a concise history of the battle that may have changed the world. Roberts is able to sum up the Waterloo campaign and the shortcomings of its participants in less than 200 pages.

The book generally covers the days leading up to the Battle of Waterloo (including brief explanations of the Battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras), the actual battle itself, and the major mistakes of Napoleon, Wellington, and their subordinate generals.

Roberts does an excellent job in summarizing the book in a short, easy to read format that gives even a novice of the battle the key points of the battle. As many analyses of the battle go, Roberts breaks the battle into five easy to follow parts. Although not chronological, these parts follow the major attacks (which occurred sometimes simultaneously on different areas of the battlefield) on that fateful day.

Don’t let the fact that this is another book covering a battle that has been analyzed to death fool you – Roberts is still able to bring in new research. He brings forth a letter, recently discovered, that explains how the fateful attack of the French cavalry led by Marshal Ney – one of the many French mistakes that contributed to their loss at Waterloo – began (a shifting of the cavalry line that started the eventual charge).

I think this book is essential for any reader who wants a brief overview of the battle and a brief analysis of why the British and their allies defeated the French.

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