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1813: Empire at Bay (Hardback)

The Sixth Coalition and the Downfall of Napoleon

Napoleonic

By Jonathon Riley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 220
ISBN: 9781783033973
Published: 18th July 2013

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1813 was a critical year in the world war that ended with the downfall of Napoleon. In a series of major battles the converging armies of the Sixth Coalition drove the French forces back. This was the year in which the balance of power tipped decisively against Napoleon's First Empire, and that is why Jonathon Riley's highly readable and timely new study is so important. He covers the operations in central Europe and Spain, where the allies broke French power, humbled Napoleon and laid the foundations for the Congress of Vienna and the European settlement that endured for the next fifty years.

In particular he focuses on the operation of the Sixth Coalition - Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and the smaller German states. This was the prototype of all uneasy modern coalitions, with their troubled command relationships, disagreements on strategy and operations, and clashing political ambitions. At the same time he reassesses the performance of Napoleon himself who was also an alliance commander, for his armies included not only Frenchmen but also Poles, Danes, Italians, Germans and a host of other contingents.

In graphic detail he covers the 1813 campaigns which have received less attention than those of 1812 and 1814/15 in spite of the fact that all the decisive moments came in 1813 – save for one: Waterloo. These moments included the Battle of Vitoria, which expelled the French from most of Spain and, in Germany, the battles of Lützen, Bautzen, Dresden, and Leipzig where half a million men fought for six brutal days.

Jonathon Riley's masterly reassessment of this pivotal year in European and world affairs will appeal to readers who are fascinated by the Napoleonic Wars and to students of military history, strategy and the operational art.

The book scores in the excellent narrative arc.
The story is told well, and the writing is first rate, covers everything one could expect. This volume represents a comprehensive overview of all the major campaigns and developments of 1813.
It is hard to imagine a better description of events as they unfold and the impact of each on the situation. It is a superb primer. Highly recommended.

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About Jonathon Riley

Lieutenant General Jonathon Riley CB DSO RhD MA was appointed Director General and Master of the Armouries in 2009 after a distinguished military career. He saw active service in Northern Ireland, Central America, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was Deputy Commander of NATO ISAF 2007–2008. He holds degrees from University College, London, University of Leeds and Cranfield University and is a Visiting Fellow at University of Birmingham and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of nine published works.

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Armies of the Napoleonic Wars (Hardback)

The armies of the Napoleonic Wars fought in a series of devastating campaigns that disturbed the peace of Europe for twelve years, yet the composition, organization and fighting efficiency of these forces receive too little attention. Each force tends to be examined in isolation or in the context of an individual battle or campaign or as the instrument of a famous commander. Rarely have these armies been studied together in a single volume as they are in this authoritative and fascinating reassessment edited by Gregory Fremont-Barnes. Leading experts on the Napoleonic Wars have been specially…

By Gregory Fermont-Barnes

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