Book Review: Waterloo 1815 (3) Mont St Jean and Wavre by John Franklin

Detail, depth and clarity have been the hallmarks of John Franklin’s Waterloo series so far. The Campaign branch of the Osprey Publishing catalogue, proving to be a excellent vessel to carry concise and modern appreciations of the battle. The 3rd Volume met all my expectations, with the same level of quality seen in the previous the other two. And indeed vindicates many of the judgements made about them, I was personally very gratified to see, as I expected, the loose ends tied up.
The visual element in my opinion is also carried through, with many little known images appearing, and superb full colour artwork from Gerry Embleton, the highlight of which is the gripping third painting of the Prussian artillery coming into action.
Many fuzzy elements of Waterloo are handled in a logical and systematic manner, timings are important in the telling of the engagement and this lays out the action excellently, taking into account often overlooked facets, such as how long it takes a large body of troops to march to a point and deploy.
The tired controversy of who won or why the French lost is happily omitted here. This book and the others are concerned primarily with the military conduct of the campaign, rather than the motives behind different events. The language Franklin uses to describe the armies of Wellington and Blücher, is coalition, and that is how it should be done. What ifs are mercifully ignored, therefore this account of the battle, is clear and as usual when reading Franklin, even handed, showing us the when and the where. Due to clever management of space, the Battle of Wavre is squeezed in at the end without having to compensate in detail, shedding a spotlight on this much overlooked engagement which had such a decided affect on the rest of the campaign in Belgium.

All in all it offers the final word to the previous volumes & is an excellent and informative read, which I have personally found an invaluable and handy resource.

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