No in depth description of the Waterloo campaign has been written for a hundred years and these two volumes have been anticipated with excitement, given John Hussey’s renown. There is no other description for John Hussey’s two volume set than a ‘tour de force’ and certainly regarding the political as well as military build up, set out in volume one, it is difficult to see how anyone will ever better it. This is not surprising given John’s lifelong interest in the politics and grand strategy of the build up to the campaign and is truly superb.
Where it does lose something, is when John tackles the actual battles of the campaign, which are clearly of lesser interest to him and where he brushes over them with a thin brisk description, which lacks the in-depth, deeply penetrative investigatory work of what has gone before. This leads to a cursory overview of the battles, where some old and even some recent myths are accepted as fact and some of the most recent work on the battle is not investigated.
The subsequent advance on Paris is dealt with well, although not in the detail of the early campaign and the ensuing political situation is well covered although it never quite reaches the dizzy heights of the first two-thirds of Volume I.
The final overall feeling is that it is a very good campaign history, but disappointingly could have even better and should have been THE BIBLE on Waterloo. Had the depth of investigation of the battles matched that of the period running up to the fighting, they would simply have been SUPERB and would have been difficult to ever replace. That is my disappointment, I wanted it all and only got half of it, but what a half!!
It still is thoroughly recommended for its dealing with the run up to the fighting
Gareth Glover April 2018