LONGEST AFTERNOON: 400 Men Who DecidedBRENDAN SIMMS Book Number: 86488 Product format: Hardback
By re-orientating Waterloo around the Haye Sainte farmhouse, the Cambridge professor gives us a riveting new account of the famous battle. Among other things, he shows that Napoleon came much closer than is commonly thought to winning in this heroic tale of 400 men of the King's German Legion who changed the course of history. Simms offers the concise, blow-by-blow narrative of how the outnumbered Hanoverian riflemen continuously beat back swarms of French infantry and so secured the British victory. It is a small masterpiece of scholarship, style and storytelling. In 1815, the deposed emperor Napoleon returned to France and threatened the already devastated and exhausted continent for yet another war. Near the small Belgian municipality of Waterloo, two large and hastily mobilised armies faced each other to decide the future of Europe - Napoleon's forces on one side, and the Duke of Wellington is on the other. Neither commander could have predicted that the battles would be decided by the Second Light Battalion given the deceptively simple task of defending the farmhouse which dominated a crucial crossroads on the way to Brussels. Simms captures the grand choreography and pervasive chaos of Waterloo, the advances and retreats, the death and the maiming, the heroism and the cowardice and describes the gallant fighting spirit of the French infantrymen who clambered over the bodies of their fallen comrades. Motivated by opposition to Napoleonic tyranny, the Battalions suffered terrible casualties but refused to capitulate or retreat until the evening, by which time the Prussians had arrived on the battlefield in large numbers. 186pp, maps.
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