On Wellington: A Critique of Waterloo

Overview

The Battle of Waterloo has been studied and dissected so extensively that one might assume little more on the subject could be discovered. Now historian Peter Hofschröer brings forward a long-repressed commentary written by Carl von Clausewitz, the author of On War.

Clausewitz, the Western world’s most renowned military theorist, participated in the Waterloo campaign as a senior staff officer in the Prussian army. His appraisal, offered here in an up-to-date and readable ...

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Overview

The Battle of Waterloo has been studied and dissected so extensively that one might assume little more on the subject could be discovered. Now historian Peter Hofschröer brings forward a long-repressed commentary written by Carl von Clausewitz, the author of On War.

Clausewitz, the Western world’s most renowned military theorist, participated in the Waterloo campaign as a senior staff officer in the Prussian army. His appraisal, offered here in an up-to-date and readable translation, criticized the Duke of Wellington’s actions. Lord Liverpool sent his translation of the manuscript to Wellington, who pronounced it a “lying work.” The translated commentary was quickly buried in Wellington’s private papers, where it languished for a century and a half. Now published for the first time in English, Hofschröer brings Clausewitz’s critique back into view with thorough annotation and contextual explanation.

Peter Hofschröer, long recognized as a leading scholar of the Napoleonic Wars, shows how the Duke prevented the account’s publication during his lifetime—a manipulation of history so successful that almost two centuries passed before Clausewitz’s work reemerged, finally permitting a reappraisal of key events in the campaign. In addition to translating and annotating Clausewitz’s critique, Hofschröer also includes an order of battle and an extensive bibliography.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After years of suppression and unavailability in English, this critical analysis of the Battle of Waterloo finally sees the light of day in this accessible English translation. Clausewitz (1780–1831), whose On War is still required reading today, served as a senior staff officer in the Prussian army, which fought with the Duke of Wellington's Anglo-Allied Army in the Waterloo campaign. His appraisal of the battle, published posthumously in its original German and later translated and shown to Wellington privately around 1842, is worth the read, as it is an objective analysis of the battle by an ally who is quite critical of both Allied commanders, Wellington and Prussian field marshal Blücher. Wellington pronounced it a "lying work" and prevented its publication in English, burying it in his private papers and fostering the Wellington bias in the historical record. VERDICT Translator and editor Hofschröer, a leading scholar of the Napoleonic Wars, has produced a fine edition of Clausewitz's critique. This piece of the Waterloo "puzzle" gives us a more rounded view of the Waterloo campaign, which Wellington himself described as "a close run thing." Now we all know just how and why. Highly recommended for both specialists and generalists interested in Napoleonic history.—David Lee Poremba, Keiser Univ., Orlando, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806141084
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2010
  • Series: Campaigns and Commanders Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian soldier and a military theorist. His book On War is to this day essential reading for military strategists.

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