1809 Thunder on the Danube (Paperback)
Napoleon's Defeat of the Habsburg
The Franco-Austrian War of 1809 was Napoleon's last victorious war. He would win many battles in his future campaigns, but never again would one of Europe's great powers lie broken at his feet. In this respect 1809 represents a high point of the First Empire yet at the same time Napoleon's armies were declining in quality and he was beginning to display the corrosive flaws that contributed to his downfall five years later.
In this volume Gill tackles the political background to the war and the opening battles of Abensberg, Eggmühl and Regensberg. He explores the motivations that prompted Austria to launch an offensive against France while Napoleon and many of his veterans were distracted in Spain. Though surprised by the timing of the Austrian attack on the 10th April, the French Emperor completely reversed a dire strategic situation with stunning blows that he called his 'most brilliant and most skilful manoeuvres'. Following a breathless pursuit down the Danube valley, Napoleon occupied the palaces of the Habsburgs for the second time in four years.
Basing his work on years of primary research and battlefield visits, Gill provides a thorough analysis replete with spectacular combat, diplomatic intrigue and the illustrious cast of characters that populated this extraordinary age. The concluding volumes will take the war to its conclusion, including Napoleon's first unequivocal repulse at the Battle of Espern-Essling, the titanic Battle of Wagram and the neglected struggle at Znaim that led to armistice.
This is an excellent first volume and I am looking forward with anticipation for the other volumes to complete this review. The quality is shown by the speed at which I created this review and that I could not put the book down until I had read it cover to cover. This work is complemented well by Gill's previous book on the Confederation of the Rhine contribution to the 1809 campaign, With Eagles to Glory, which came out in 1992, published by Greenhill Books. This book also is highly recommended.The Napoleon Series - July 2008 - reviewed by Dr Stephen Summerfield