As today is the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo which ended Napoleon's attempt at European domination, it seems appropriate to mark the day. One can hardly celebrate a conflict which cost the lives of some 22,000 Allied soldiers and officers, and about 25,000 dead and wounded French combatants. The battle, and those losses, took place in less than twelve hours, and in less space than that occupied by many of today's major cities. The carnage was appalling.
The website British Battles has an excellent précis of the battle and the armies, and many details and statistics. I am not a military scholar, and do not pretend to a great interest in wars and conflicts. But one cannot ignore Waterloo.
Georgette Heyer's outstanding novel, An Infamous Army, has been over the years my favourite source for information about Waterloo. In addition to a moving love story, the tale of the days preceding and following June 18th, 1815 is told in meticulous detail. I have heard that the book has been used in history classes because of its excellent recounting of the battle.
But a new book has just come to my attention, and it came into my hands yesterday. It is titled "Dancing Into Battle" and is subtitled "A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo". The author is Nick Foulkes and the book was first published in 2006. Social history is my thing--and I can only regret that I just discovered this book.
The illustrations are not numerous but they are well-chosen. Some I have seen before, others I have not. I very much enjoy seeing representations that are new to me--visual images are so important.
I highly recommend this book, and I would like to hear your opinion of it if you have encountered it already. And give a thought today to the Battle of Waterloo…and join me in praying that we find a better way to resolve our differences than armed conflict.
I will return in two weeks,
'Til then, all the best,