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Walking Waterloo (Paperback)

A Guide

Military > Battlefield Guidebooks Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic > Battle of Waterloo

By Charles J Esdaile
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 300
Illustrations: 120
ISBN: 9781526740786
Published: 4th February 2019



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Charles Esdaile’s new guide to the Battle of Waterloo presents the experience of the soldiers who took part in the battle in the most graphic and direct way possible – through their own words. In a series of walks he describes in vivid detail what happened in each location on 18 June 1815 and he quotes at length from eyewitness accounts of the men who were there.

Each phase of the action during that momentous day is covered, from the initial French attacks and the intense fighting at Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte to the charges of the French cavalry against the British squares and the final, doomed attack of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard.

This innovative guide to this historic site is fully illustrated with a selection of archive images from the War Heritage Institute in Brussels, modern colour photographs of the battlefield as it appears today and specially commissioned maps which allow the visitor to follow the course of the battle on the ground.

"I was based in Brussels for three years, with my home just twenty minutes away from Mont Saint Jean. I wish that this book had been published then! Highly recommended."

Bill Griffin, Battlefield Trust, Spring 2021 Issue 'Battlefield'

Overall, a useful and practical guide to walking Waterloo with some suitable tips on visiting the area.

Waterloo Journal, Autumn 2019 - reviewed by Paul Chamberlain

Lavishly illustrated with maps and paintings accompanied by personal writings from officers and soldiers from a variety of corners on the battlefield as well as some personal comments from the author, the book succeeds in presenting a fresh viewpoint of the battle.

Read the full review here

History Net

Really, guys; if you’re contemplating a visit to the battlefield, you have to get yourself this book. Enough said.

Read the full review here

War History Online, Mark Barnes

Following the current fashion in historiography to publish battlefield guides as useful to serious scholars as they are to casual visitors, Charles J. Esdaile, professor at the University of Liverpool and a leading Napoleonic historian, has published Walking Waterloo with the invaluable assistance of the War Heritage Institute in Brussels, Belgium. Lavishly illustrated with maps and paintings, accompanied by personal accounts from officers and soldiers from a variety of corners on the battlefield, as well as some personal comments from the author, the book succeeds in presenting a fresh view of the battle. For example, Esdaile avers that the loss of le Haye
Sainte was much more serious to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, because the soldiers posted there could fire beyond the Ohain road. Esdaile also explain that, contrary to popular legend, the last rearguard action of the 1st and 2nd Grenadiers á Pied of the Imperial Guard did not even remotely resemble a
“last stand,” the French troops remaining in place and repulsing continuous attacks by the British cavalry to allow the defeated Napoleon to escape the battlefield before their survivors marched away in the gathering darkness. Walking Waterloo should appeal in equal measure not only to visitors of the battlefield, but general enthusiasts of the Napoleonic Wars.

The Napoleonic Historical Society Newsletter

If you enjoy battlefield visits, Waterloo deserves to be on your list. I would certainly aim to have this with me for any trip to the area.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

As featured on Julian Stockwin's Summer Selection

Julian Stockwin Blog

A very careful guide full of lots of extra information.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

For those that choose to take this excellent book with them to the battlefield and to follow one or more of the tours, walking the field while sharing in the author's insights will make the experience even more rewarding.

Read the full review here

1/72 Scale Plastic Napoleonic Figures

A book that is excellent as a guide, because it refers to real data such as the time of travel, the difficulty of the path etc., but that in the same way is very useful consultation to have a general picture of the battle and to call back to other texts. It is an extremely interesting text for those who know the battle, for those who do not know it and for those who want, going to Belgium, retracing every stage and knowing where he fought every known character. A book that deserves to be on the shelf of every fan of Napoleonic Wars.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

Walking Waterloo is exceptional, being far more than a simple guide to a well-known battle and a well-trodden field. Esdaile has not allowed his judgement to be clouded by a deep knowledge of the battle and its commonly held myth, and has instead approached the battlefield with a fresh pair of eyes, taking the time to examine the terrain carefully, and consider whether the oft-repeated stories about the battle are actually realistic, when one stands on the landscape itself. This book is therefore able to offer an insightful and highly persuasive re-evaluation of commonly held beliefs about the battle, notably, amongst other things, questioning the importance of Hougoumont as the ‘key’ to the allied position, and questioning how it is possible for the collapse of the imperial guard to have shattered the morale of the entire French army, when a ridge of high ground makes it impossible to see from one half of the field to the other. The advantage of presenting this information in a battlefield guide is, of course, that the visitor only needs to look up from the book to see the evidence first hand for themselves. This is therefore a book which is as important for researchers as it is for those who have a general interest in the period.

In Walking Waterloo Charles Esdaile has not only created an essential addition to the suitcase of any visitor to Waterloo, but has also achieved the historian’s ‘Holy Grail’. This is a book of huge significance for historians, but which will also engage and inspire any member of the public to know more about this crucial battle, whilst not only informing them about discussion at the cutting edge of historical debate, but also physically involving them in that process, and inviting them to investigate his conclusions for themselves. This is undoubtedly one of the most important books on Waterloo to have been written in the last 200 years.

Zack White, Freelance

As featured in

The Bookseller Buyers Guide

As featured 'ON THE BOOKSHELF'

Wargames Illustrated, February 2019
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