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Napoleon's Peninsular War (Hardback)

The French Experience of the War in Spain from Vimeiro to Corunna, 1808–1809

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: Napoleonic Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic > Peninsular War P&S History > By Century > 19th Century

By Paul L. Dawson
Frontline Books
Pages: 336
Illustrations: 32 b/w
ISBN: 9781526754097
Published: 26th October 2020



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Memoirs of British soldiers who fought in the Peninsular War are commonplace and histories of the momentous campaigns and battles of Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, can be numbered by the score. Yet surprisingly little has been published in English on their opponents, the French.

Using previously unseen material from the French army archives in Paris, which includes numerous memoires that have not even been published in France, renowned historian Paul Dawson tells the story of the early years of the Peninsular War as never before.

Eyewitness accounts of the horrific Siege of Zaragoza, in which more than 50,000 soldiers and civilians were killed defending the city, and of the cataclysmic Spanish defeats at Medellin and Ocaña are interspersed with details of campaign life in the Iberian Peninsula and of struggling through the Galician mountains in pursuit of the British army marching to Corunna.

As well as the drama of the great battles and the ever-present fear of Spanish guerrillas – the knife in the back, the flash of steel in the dark – Paul Dawson draws on the writings of the French soldiers to examine the ordinary conscript’s belief in the war they were fighting for their Emperor, Napoleon.

In this much-needed study of the Peninsular War from the French perspective, Paul Dawson has produced an unprecedented, yet vital addition to our understanding of the war in Iberia. Napoleon’s Peninsular War is destined to become one of the classic accounts of this turbulent, yet endlessly fascinating era.

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Portsmouth Napoleonic Society

A welcome account, from the French perspective, of the Peninsular War, 1808-1809. Excellent research and presentation of the campaigns using material from French Army archives – Most Highly Recommended

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This book provides an insight into political turmoil in Spain and the ravages of war being inflicted on the population. It’s a fascinating read, if at times a little dry, it’s definitely not a book for the faint hearted. As I said earlier it won’t appeal to the average wargamer, but those who really like to dive deep into a period they’re gaming in. Is it worth picking up, the short answer is yes and no, it really depends on how deep you want to go with your background reading? Is it a good book, that answer is a definite yes, it’s well written and extremely well researched? It’s just one of those books that won’t appeal to everyone but to those it does, it’s definitely a book that should be on your shelf.

Irregular magazine, Issue 16 Volume 2 / Summer 2021 - review by Jason Hubbard

As well as portraying the drama of the great battles and the ever-present fear of Spanish guerrillas, Dawson draws on the writings of the French soldiers to examine the ordinary conscript’s belief in the war they were fighting for their emperor. This study of the Peninsular War from the French perspective is an important addition to our understanding of the war in Iberia.

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Julian Stockwin

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The Napoleonic Guide

The first hand evidence has been brought from the archives, some for the first time, which makes this book rather special and a very good read. We warmly recommend it.

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Clash of Steel

... a good account from the French side.

The Armourer, February 2021

About Paul L. Dawson

Paul L. Dawson BSc Hons MA MIFA FINS, is a historian and author, specialising in the French Army of the Napoleonic War. In addition, as a noted equestrian, this allows him to have a greater understanding of what was and what was not possible for cavalry and other troops which utilised horses. Working as a historical tailor producing museum-quality replica clothing gives him a unique insight into construction techniques of the period, as well the knowledge and ability to decipher documents from the period.

Perfect Partner

The Peninsular War The Spanish Perspective (Hardback)

The Peninsular War has been extensively studied by British historians for decades, even centuries, but the Spanish contribution to the conflict, which was fundamental to the defeat of Napoleon’s armies, has been largely relegated to minor role. This book is an attempt to rebalance our understanding of the campaign in Iberia, written by a Spanish historian and translated into English for the first time. The book does not attempt to minimise the problems the Spanish experienced nor the catastrophic defeats suffered by the Spanish Army, but the reasons for these setbacks are viewed and analysed…

By J J Herrero Giménez

Click here to buy both titles for £58.00
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