The illustrious ‘Making History Series’, edited by Lisa Jardine and Amanda Foreman, explores an eclectic mix of history’s tipping points. In ‘Waterloo’, Roberts provides not only a fizzing account of one of the most significant forty-eight hour periods of all time, but also a startling interrogation into the methodology of history – is it possible to create an accurate picture from a single standpoint? What we can say for certain about the battle is that it ended forever one of the great personal epics. The career of Napoleon was brought to a shuddering halt on the evening of 18 June 1815. Interwoven in the clear-cut narrative are exciting revelations brought to light by recent research: accident rather than design led to the crucial cavalry debacle that lost the battle. Amongst the all-too-human explanation for the blunder that cost Napoleon his throne, Roberts sets the political, strategic and historical scene, and finally shows why Waterloo was such an important historical punctuation mark. The generation after Waterloo saw the birth of the modern era: ghastly as the carnage here was, henceforth the wars of the future were fought with infinitely more ghastly methods of trenches, machine-guns, directed starvation, concentration camps, and aerial bombardment. By the time of the Great War, chivalry was utterly dead. The honour of bright uniform and tangible spirit of élan met their final dance at Waterloo.
Reviews of Waterloo
‘Roberts gives us a typically concise, pacy and well-argued account that puts many of its predecessors to shame…a masterly synthesis of the latest scholarship.’ Saul David, Sunday Telegraph
‘Roberts’s prose is as lively as the action he describes; he is comprehensive in his survey of Waterloo historiography, and generous in his attributions.’ Allan Mallinson, Spectator
‘Roberts writes with great clarity about the shape, progress and tactics of the battle.’ Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times
‘In this admirably concise and spirited book, Roberts mixes just the right amount of specific anecdote and human detail into his analysis of how this extraordinary battle unfolded.’ Christopher Silvester, Daily Express
‘Andrew Roberts covers the five distinct phases of the battle with panache, and he touches on all of the major areas of controversy that make Waterloo so fascinating.’ Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
‘The battle of Waterloo is both one of the most decisive in history and the most difficult to describe. Andrew Roberts, by prodigous research and by virtue of a clean, well-argued analysis, has produced the most convincing description of that fearsome day I have ever read. It should remain the most authoritative account for many years.’ Paul Johnson