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Sharpe's Waterloo JuneThe Duke of Wellington, the Prince of Orange, and Napoleon will meet on the battlefieldand decide the fate of EuropeWith the emperor Napoleon at its head, and enormous French army is marching toward Brussels The British and their allies are also converging on Brussels in preparation for a grand society ball And it is up to Richard Sharpe to convince the Prince of Orange, the inexperienced commander of Wellington s Dutch troops, to act before it is too late But Sharpe s warning cannot stop the tide of battle, and the British suffer heavy losses on the road to Waterloo Wellington has few reserves of men and ammunition the Prussian army has not arrived, and the French advance wields tremendous firepower and determinaiton Victory seems impossible All right, I ll confess it I m a Richard Sharpe addict I have just started the last of the 21 novels read in historically chronological order, not the order written and I will miss his adventures once I m done One of the factors in my appreciation of the series is the image of Sean Bean s Sharpe portrayal from the movies very appealing , but the other is the breathtaking depiction of battle in all its glorious valor, unbelievable horror and intimate detail amid a historical setting I ca All right, I ll confess it I m a Richard Sharpe addict I have just started the last of the 21 novels read in historically chronological order, not the order written and I will miss his adventures once I m done One of the factors in my appreciation of the series is the image of Sean Bean s Sharpe portrayal from the movies very appealing , but the other is the breathtaking depiction of battle in all its glorious valor, unbelievable horror and intimate detail amid a historical setting I can see the action through Cornwell s descriptions, unlike similar passages in other authors works where I have often had to refer back to maps and occasionally have given up and skipped the details Yes, these books are fictional crack, but what a ride I appreciated this as a window on the famous 1815 battle, with Sharpe a Zellig like figure at key turning points However, I missed Sharpe s personal story as the main focus of the narrative rather than getting a sense of him being used as a tool to illustrate historical events If you have read any of the Sharpe series on the British army during the Napoleanic Wars, you will want to read this out for a sense of completion, with this being the penultimate volume He still thinks of himself as a I appreciated this as a window on the famous 1815 battle, with Sharpe a Zellig like figure at key turning points However, I missed Sharpe s personal story as the main focus of the narrative rather than getting a sense of him being used as a tool to illustrate historical events If you have read any of the Sharpe series on the British army during the Napoleanic Wars, you will want to read this out for a sense of completion, with this being the penultimate volume He still thinks of himself as a rifleman, but his capacity to lead men leads him to advance to become a competent officer In the brief peace he has taken up the life of a country farmer with a French woman in Normandy and is now a father, leaving his wife back in England to squander his modest estate and pursue her own lovers As the book opens, his need for money has led him to assume a post as a brevet colonel in the Dutch forces led by of the young, inexperienced Prince of Orange Along with their allies in the so called Seventh Coalition, the Prussians and Wellington s international army are defending Dutch Belgium against a likely incursion by Bonaparte In the three months since escaping Elba, he has won over the French army and state, and Sharpe is a witness of the advance dragoon scouts leading the invasion by an army of 125,000 His skills in combat by gun and sword are rusty, but he still has the right stuff in mano a mano action.Sharpe has been dreading the fulfillment of orders from the Prince to show up at a grand ball in Brussells, so it s perfect for him to show up all grotty and bloody The plan of Napolean to divide the forces of Wellington and the Prussians is close to being completed, and the warnings Sharpe tried to send did not reach the allied command Rallying to the defense of a key crossroads becomes an emergency objective for the allies Sharpe s old sergeant, the Irishman Harper, is now a bar owner and dealer of stolen horses, but chooses to join him on location, despite lack of a commission There they learn what a dangerous, pompous idiot the Prince is, ordering his men to deploy in lines for musketry attacks and leaving them vulnerable to decimation by the cavalry As we learn later, the formation of battalions into squares with a wall of bayonets protecting concentrated firepower was the critical strategy to defeat cavalry charges Harper pegs the Prince as a silk stocking full of shit , and discussion of fragging him becomes a serious topic Illustration of a British deployment in the square formation at the battle of the Quatre Bras crossroads.Because his scattered forces have not had time to coalesce, Wellington is forced into a strategic retreat His choice of a site for consolidation and defense, a ridge near Waterloo flanked by a solid farm house and a chateau, was critical to his success Yet he counted on the Prussian army joining the fray, and they were very late in arriving after their bludgeoning at Ligny Sharpe and Harper get to play a role in a miraculous beating off a nearly successful takeover of the farmhouse fortress From this point on, Cornwell s version of the battle gives emphasis to mistakes made by the French Their poor coordination between infantry, artillery, and cavalry is covered The French sending a huge cavalry force about a dozen times alone against the allies in square formation is a big focus of the narrative Later, when the superior numbers of the French seems to have prevailed, Napolean sends the glorious, undefeated Imperial Guards, all dressed to the hilt in frippery, to deliver an expected final blow But their keeping to orderly columns diminished their firepower It was cool to get to experience Sharpe and Harper rallying the ragged and nearly officerless forces of their old regiment, the Prince of Wales Own Volunteers, to outflank and rout the Guards It should be noted that this regiment is fictional with a home base in South Essex instead of South Lancashire for the historical regiment The British Recoats fighting at the gate to the strategic farmhouse redoubt at the beginning of the Waterloo battle Map of action showing the French in blue dividing the Anglo Dutch red and Prussians black , defeating the latter at Ligny and the former at the crossroads of Quatre Bras, then facing Wellington near Waterloo, 10 miles south of Brussels As usual, Cornwell walks the line between showing the brutal and tragic realities of war and the uncaring, blind ambitions of most commanding officers while at the same time revealing the heroism and resourcefulness of many common soldiers and lesser officers Again, Sharpe wins our hearts with his balance of irreverent cynicism and brilliant actions on behalf of the success of his fellow soldiers If you have not read Sharpe tales, you would do best not start to with this one But if you want to read it for a gritty, bloody profile of this critical battle, that would work fine Cornell s afterward makes it clear that the history of the battle suffers from very limited accounts from Wellington and likely bias from versions told from the French perspective.When I read the excellent Wikipedia account, I learned how the engagement by the Prussians under Bl cher near the end is considered another critical factor for the outcome Cornwell takes pains to present evidence that Bl cher delayed his arrival on purpose, so I don t blame him for putting the British directed actions on center stage Regardless, this definitive defeat of Napolean s dream of empire was achieved though the highest butcher s bill in history at the time about 15,000 dead or wounded for Wellington s army, 8,000 Bl cher, and 25,000 for Napolean It would be another 50 years for the Battle of Gettysburg to supersede that level of slaughter and another 50 years for the Battle of the Somme to supersede that Book 20 in the Richard Sharpe series.A bit of a change in the story narrative this time, the last 19 books have beenconcerned with the life and times of Richard Sharpe with a battle of some importance as a back drop But this time the narrative is well and truly about the battle of Waterloo with, the now Lt Col in Prince William of Orange s army, Richard Sharpe as a minor player.Did I miss Sharpe s presence Yes.Did it detract from the telling of the battle of Waterloo No.This is the mo Book 20 in the Richard Sharpe series.A bit of a change in the story narrative this time, the last 19 books have beenconcerned with the life and times of Richard Sharpe with a battle of some importance as a back drop But this time the narrative is well and truly about the battle of Waterloo with, the now Lt Col in Prince William of Orange s army, Richard Sharpe as a minor player.Did I miss Sharpe s presence Yes.Did it detract from the telling of the battle of Waterloo No.This is the moment that the last 19 books have been heading to, the end of the Napoleonic Wars.Bernard Cornwell s brilliance as a story teller brings the battle of Waterloo with all its blood and gore, the cost in human and horse life was horrendous, right to your favourite reading chair Talking of horses, the slaughter of these poor animals was massive Of all the death and destruction that happened on the battle field it was the horses that I felt for The soldiers chose to be there, the horses had no say in it.This is about as riveting as history gets.A highly recommended 4 star read I d advise not reading the author s note at the end of the book, because it tips the novel s John Bull ishness right over the edge into jingoism The body of the book is hardly great literature, but it s enjoyable it could have been edited down, but as a dubiously historical recounting of Waterloo from the first skirmishes at Quatre Bras to the defeat of the Imperial Guard, it rollicks along amiably enough Its biggest flaw, however, is that Sharpe just doesn t have a much of a purpose His mov I d advise not reading the author s note at the end of the book, because it tips the novel s John Bull ishness right over the edge into jingoism The body of the book is hardly great literature, but it s enjoyable it could have been edited down, but as a dubiously historical recounting of Waterloo from the first skirmishes at Quatre Bras to the defeat of the Imperial Guard, it rollicks along amiably enough Its biggest flaw, however, is that Sharpe just doesn t have a much of a purpose His movement from place to place on the line feels very forced after a while Cornwell is clearly trying to manoeuvre him around so that he s always at the focal point of the battle, and it grows contrived I could also have done without constant mentions of Harper and his Gaelic war cries Nothing needles me quicker than cod Oirishness

  • Paperback
  • 384 pages
  • Sharpe's Waterloo
  • Bernard Cornwell
  • English
  • 08 October 2018
  • 0140294392

About the Author: Bernard Cornwell

Cornwell was born in London in 1944 His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women s Auxiliary Air Force He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine After he left them, he changed his name to his birth mother s maiden name, Cornwell.Cornwell was sent away to Monkton Combe School, attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times but was rejected on the grounds of myopia.He then joined BBC s Nationwide and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News He relocated to the United States in 1980 after marrying an American Unable to get a green card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit.As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C.S Forester, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find there were no such novels following Lord Wellington s campaign on land Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most major battles of the Peninsular War.Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of warm up novels These were Sharpe s Eagle and Sharpe s Gold, both published in 1981 Sharpe s Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three book deal He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel, Sharpe s Company, published in 1982.Cornwell and wife Judy co wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym Susannah Kells These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms aka The Aristocrats in 1986 Cornwell s strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War In 1987, he also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British.After publishing eight books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co funding from Spain The result was Sharpe s Rifles, published in 1987, and a series of Sharpe television films staring Sean Bean.A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord aka Killer s Wake in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and Scoundrel, a political thriller, in 1992.In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen s 80th Birthday Honours List.Cornwell s latest work, Azincourt, was released in the UK in October 2008 The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, another devastating defeat suffered by the French in the Hundred Years War However, Cornwell has stated that it will not be about Thomas of Hookton from The Grail Quest or any of his relatives.


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