Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Friday, 27 September 2013

1815 The Waterloo Campaign Book One by Peter Hofschroer

Maybe I like to be different, or was just plain lucky but I read the second book in this series first. That one covers the battle of Waterloo and the rest of the campaign until Paris fell. This book covers the campaign till the end of the 16th of June.

So why am I so pleased to have read the second book first? Well Hofschroer is akin to a rabid dog when it comes to Wellington in the first book and if I had not already read the second book which looks like his publishers forced him to rein in the hate. It's not that he does not have a point, it's the delivery and the rate of delivery. A brain damaged goldfish would understand that Wellington was a deceitful, self promoting, deceitful, lying, deceitful cad. The reader, well this one started to wonder if their was any direction to the book as Hof. again and again took the slightest opportunity to point out one or all of the above points. Indeed more than once he stretches credibility to tie in another attack on Wellington. If your looking for objectivity, look elsewhere. The crying shame is that it's a great book turned into a good book and should be read as it supplies a much needed view of the German side of the battle though he admits that he has slanted the narration massively in favour of the German so as to right the balance against all the English slanted accounts in print. Well that makes sense on planet stupid. 

I would still recommend reading both books (but in order) though I would say that his attitude is enough to get a sympathetic reader to start to resist his view. I think he added about 5% to the page count just on his attacks on Wellington, some based on flimsy points but here is the real shame it's mostly just repeating what he has said before. He is writing about Ligne but he harps on about something that happened two days before, then moves onto Quarte Bras and again out of context reminds the reader about said event. Often each reason to have a go at Wellington is repeated time and time again. Indeed the last chapter was all about Wellington's failings and one point was driven home at least five times with no explanation why he felt he had to repeat the point so many times. That chapter took some finishing not because I became angry, I just got bored. 

I think if you want to understand the 100 days campaign these books are a must if you want more than the Wellington subscribed view of the events but don't take his word for anything that involves Wellington and do read Waterloo New Perspectives by David Hamilton-Williams which is a more neutral view point. 


  1. The Hof is indeed an experience. Have you ever seen him on TMP?

  2. Sound like very interesting books there and I think I have to add them to the list of must gets

  3. I quite like Hofshroer's work and I think his scholarship is very good, but I agree, he overstates his argument a bit too stridently at times. I do caution anyone taking the work of Hamilton-Williams to heart. His writing is engaging but his scholarship has been called into suspicion (to understate the case) and there has been a lot of disturbing controversy regarding his work. Just my two pesos.

  4. The Hofschroer books are worth reading as they do add a good deal to the 'German' perspective. I don't particularly like him or his style (though I don't know him personally), but, once you get used to his almost fetishistic attitude to Wellington, the books deserve a place on the shelves for most Napoleonic gamers. They do give a good impression of Napoleoic warfare and Prussian methods in particular. For instance, he almost casually mentions landwehr battalions deploying skirmishers, occasionally in a fair quantity. How many wargame rules allow for that?

    Certainly worth having, but only as part of a wider selection of books on the campaign.

  5. I have only read the 2nd book and really enjoyed it. It was good to read the events after waterloo unfold.

  6. @ Conrad, I don't tend to go on TMP too much so have not seen him there.

    @ PanzerKaput, well worth reading and he has a great ability to get the message across.

    @ Curt, Yes I had heard H-W was brought under question but it does read very well, not being well read on Waterloo I can't really get to what looks right or wrong

    @ Gary, I can't fault a single word you put, I am glad I have these books

    @ Paulalba, that was me too. The first book seems harder to get though Lee picked it up at the Bring and Buy yesterday for £5. I think the first book is worth tracking down but it's far more a Wellington bang than the second book