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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Fighting Techniques of the Napoleonic Age, 1789 – 1815: Equipment, Combat Skills, and Tactics”, by Robert B. Bruce, Iain Dickie, Kevin Kiley, Michael F. Pavkovic, Frederick C. Schneid

256 pages, Thomas Dunne Books, ISBN-13: 978-0312375874

For anyone looking for an introduction to the fighting techniques of the Napoleonic era, then Fighting Techniques of the Napoleonic Age, 1789 – 1815: Equipment, Combat Skills, and Tactics should leave you reasonably satisfied; serious students, however, will find it severely lacking, and after reading this book I was left with quite a few more questions than answers. It certainly delivers in several respects by exploring the tactics and strategy required to win battles with the technology available during the Napoleonic period (1789 – 1815), and points out how the development of such weapons technology changed the face of the battlefield. To do so, it is divided into five sections: Individual components of the armies (the foot soldier, the cavalryman and the artilleryman, the equipment they wore and used, and how they fought together); Technology change, the emergence of military professionalism, and the impact these changes had on the battlefield; How units were used together on the battlefield and strategic positioning of battle units; Specialist techniques and equipment developed for artillery; and Naval warfare, from the ships in which the men fought to the weapons they carried. There are also several excellent anecdotes concerning the historic personages of the era, but unfortunately the real meat of the subject is missing. The battle descriptions are average, while the maps are downright confusing (they mix colors from battle to battle, for example). The battles are meant to be illustrations of the techniques described in the chapters, but they come off as loosely related and do not adequately convey the intended lesson. An average book at best, but in many ways mostly disappointing.

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