Book Review: Waterloo 1815 (2) Ligny by John Franklin.

Volume 2, Ligny.
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Osprey Publishing (February 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1472803663
ISBN-13: 978-1472803665
The Second of Osprey’s timely campaign series on Waterloo focuses on the Battle of Ligny. Another seesaw battle that raged about five miles away from Quatre Bras on the 16th of June. However because the two sides were already concentrated there and because the battle hinged on the possession of several fixed points, it presents a slightly more conventional action rather than the confused battle of encounter dealt with in volume 1.
Ligny has always been less of a challenge to write about than Quatre Bras, yet the details of the fight and the participants are much less known and just as fascinating. In my opinion this volume runs smoother than the first one, and nimbly follows the vicious struggle for the hamlets along the Ligne Stream, with the same detailed analysis that has already been shown. Beginning with Napoleon’s return from exile and ending with the beginning of the Prussian retreat to Wavre, this book excellently outlines how Napoleon won his last battlefield victory with brilliant tactical acumen, and indeed economy given the circumstances, against superior numbers but failed to land his much needed decisive blow because of decisions made early in the campaign. It compliments the first volume very well and actually surpasses it in terms of narrative.

The Artwork here is again done by the excellent Gerry Embleton and like volume 1 it also contains some rare and interesting images besides the excellent treatment of the charge of the Grenadiers à Cheval of the Garde Impériale. In both books the maps are positional, (IE no arrows to indicate movement) and rely on the boxes of text to indicate what is happening, they are comprehensive and detailed, which is very helpful.

As far as I am aware there are only two seminal works on the two battles so far covered. Therefore they are a welcome addition to a very select catalogue of books. They are easy and accessible to pick up for reference and detailed enough to satisfy close study and make a great basis for further investigation. As a historical read they are well written and convincingly described, not exceptionally controversial as far as I’m concerned and even handed, which I like in general when it comes to history.