Sunday, January 8, 2023

Books, Books, Books

Here it is, not a week into the year and I've got nine new books, all gifted to me by my daughters, directly and indirectly, so to speak.

The books up above were all written by Andrew W. Field, MBE, a former British Army officer. The book at the top of the photo above drew my attention as it purported to describe the battle of Waterloo from the French perspective.

What's that you say, the winners write the history books? Well sure, they do, but they don't always. Napoléon wrote extensively on the Waterloo campaign (his last) though he wasn't exactly unbiased in how he saw things. Or remembered things, as the case may be.

All of the books I've read on Waterloo cover the major happenings in that battle, but usually with eyewitness accounts written by British soldiers. Sure the odd Frenchmen wanders into the accounts, but for the most part all of the material is from the men who wore the red coat. (Blue in the artillery and for a number of cavalry units.)

One could make the argument that Wellington didn't so much win the battle, what he did do was manage not to lose the battle. Huh, how's that Sarge? What on earth are you babbling about?

See, here's the thing.

Napoléon and his army came bustling up the road to Brussels, determined to split the Anglo-Allied army (under Wellington) from the Prussian army (under Blücher) as both armies together outnumbered the force available to the Emperor.

This is something the France managed to do, so that on the 18th of June, 1815, the army under Wellington faced the army under Napoléon at something of a disadvantage in numbers and experience. Many of the men in the Anglo-Allied army had fought under Napoléon not so long ago. Wellington couldn't be sure that those men wouldn't flock to the Emperor at the first reverse.

But through masterful use of the ground, Wellington held on. Held on until the Prussians, marching through miserable terrain, joined Wellington's right flank and ruined Napoléon's plan.

Field's book, Waterloo, The French Perspective, describes this very well. Unlike other books, this account concentrates on the French, what they saw, the moves they made. A superb account. Based on this one book, I bought the other six in that picture above. Note the titles, there's even one looking at the battle through the eyes of Wellington's allies. I'm looking forward to that one!

Waterloo, The French PerspectiveFire & Steel, and Hitler's Winter, The German Battle of the Bulge, were all gifts from LUSH. She asked for a list of suggestions, I gave her three books, any single one of which would have been a superb Christmas gift. Lucky me, she got me all three.

Note that Hitler's Winter is written from the German perspective. Again, most books I've read on the battle are from the American perspective. Again, I wanted to see what was going on on the "other side of the hill." Looking forward to reading this one.

As for Fire & Steel, this is part of a series on WWII by Peter Caddick-Adams. I have the first two - Sand & Steel (which covers D-day and the fighting up to late fall 1944), and Snow & Steel (which, as you might imagine) covers the Battle of the Bulge. The latter book was recommended to me by a retired armor officer whose opinion I have great respect for. Buying the book, solely on that recommendation, increased my respect for the man. The book was excellent, as was Sand & Steel.

Now the lower six books in the first picture were purchased with a gift card I received from The Nuke. My daughters made sure that my Christmas this year would be a literary one. Well done, ladies, well done.

In other news

I am going through Almost a Lifetime, my novel of WWII, after incorporating most of the edits I received from those of you who volunteered to take on that weighty task. I'm tweaking things here and there, such as removing the German Tiger tank gunner from the British Firefly he somehow wound up in, and other weird anomalies. (Not that many, the editors caught most of that.)

I'm enjoying the reread, so I guess the book is "okay." Okay? I think it's bloody outstanding, but I'm not exactly unbiased,

Reminds of my last trip to Sandy Eggo when I told my boss out there that I had written a book ...

"Is it any good?" he asked.

"Well, I think so." I answered.

Not sure how one should answer a question like that, honestly I suppose. So yes, I think it's a damned good book. Others might not agree, but we shall see.

Provided I get this final editing done and get it published!

Anyhoo, that's all for now.



  1. I'd never thought of someone actually asking if the book YOU wrote was any good... :-)

  2. Wow Sarge, that whole thing looks like a haul to me (funny thing: I was thinking of posting the same sort of thing as soon as the last bits showed up from Christmas). Sometimes there is nothing like having the materials to just focus on a subject.

    Writing: The correct answer from the author is always "Of course it is good". That believing in ourselves and all...

    1. Concur with your last. Perhaps some Hollywood writers know that they produce crap, but most of us should be confident in our work.

  3. Aaaaaannd there goes the credit card meltdown, thanks Sarge.

  4. Eagerly awaiting the publication of your most excellent book, Sarge! I don't remember the Tiger gunner in the Firefly, sorry if that eluded me.
    Boat Guy

    1. I just happened to notice that the crewman of a British tank had a very German name. Not that odd given Britain's connection to Hannover, but I recognized the name after a moment's thought.

      Easy to miss if one is not very familiar with the vast host of characters. (Which increases every time I write. I need to control myself!)

  5. So when do you build the library extension?

    1. This year we will begin to cull the herd of books we know we won't read again. Hopefully I can find them a good home.

    2. Sarge, I have started the same activity myself. There are things I will never likely read again. Better to admit it now and recover the space.

    3. Pretty much the same rationale. Love to keep 'em all, but there's just no room.

  6. January 2023 must be 'read military history month'. I just finished "The Last Stand of Fox Company", by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. Incredibly well written and compelling story of a campaign in the Korean War. Highly recommend it.

  7. We spent about a month studying Waterloo at SAMS. Started out interesting and had quite a bit of logistically useful info, but...I had a hard time figuring out how the lessons applied to a three dimensional battlefield. Got burned out on the subject. Which is nothing but a self-criticism. A guys gotta like what a guys gotta like.

    1. I'm sure Napoléon would have loved to have a couple of squadrons of F-15s.

  8. “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.”
    - A fictional, but very smart man.
    Stay sharp!


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