Book Review: A Short History of the Peninsular War by Mark Simner.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 3752 KB
Print Length: 86 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Mark Simner; 1 edition (22 Sept. 2015)

I should probably preface this by saying I have E-known Mark Simner for some years now. The supposed drawback of this is that I might lose some objectivity, however having exchanged many messages with him over the web I feel this allows me to assure perspective readers of this new author’s dedication to his subject in a way I could not with someone else.

Strange as it seems the Peninsular War is becoming a niche subject. It is a field of enquiry dominated by ex soldiers, a handful of dedicated historians and professors of British military history or Hispanic studies and those devoted fans of Bernard Cornwell’s books and of course the Sean Bean series.

When casting around for some kind of introduction therefore readers are left with a stark choice, in that there has not been a readable summary history of the war written since Roger Parkinson’s 1973 contribution to The British at War series and Michael Glover’s concise history in 1974. Mark Simner’s new book has taken a step in the right direction to redress the balance.

It is a short, concise, smartly illustrated little book with an encyclopaedic feel to it. Each chapter covers about a year or so of the war. At the end of each chapter there are small biographies of key players, and at the finish is a small bibliography and a guide to battlefields, I think one could easily dip in and out of it at will. This book would be perfect for those who want to read history but excuse themselves because they have no time to delve into 300 pages as it could easily be read in a few hours. It would be extremely useful to younger readers or those completely uninitiated to the Peninsular War because of its relative simplicity, yet fine presentation of the important facts. For instance the most impressive feature is probably its blending of Portuguese and Spanish effort into the standard narrative, which could just as easily have been a summary of Wellington’s battles. So even for the veteran enthusiast there is likely to be something new to discover.


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