Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815. Volume I

From Elba to Ligny and Quatre Bras

John Hussey

Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Greenhill Books
Contributor(s) :
Hew Strachan
Illustration :
16 pages of plates
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ISBN : 9781784381967
Pages : 736
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Shortlisted for Military History Monthly's "Book of the Year" Award

The first of two groundbreaking volumes on the Waterloo campaign, this book is based upon a detailed analysis of sources old and new in four languages. It highlights the political stresses between the Allies, and their resolution; it studies the problems of feeding and paying for 250,000 Allied forces assembling in Belgium during the ‘undeclared war’, and how a strategy was thrashed out.

It studies the neglected topic of how the slow and discordant Allies beyond the Rhine hampered the plans of Blücher and Wellington, thus allowing Napoleon to snatch the initiative from them. Napoleon’s operational plan is analyzed (and Soult's mistakes in executing it). Accounts from both sides help provide a vivid impression of the fighting on the first day, 15 June, and the volume ends with the joint battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras the next day.

About The Author

After reading History at Cambridge John Hussey spent 30 years working for BP around the world including the Congo in the 1960s and Nigeria in the 1970s. He was awarded an OBE in 1971\. He has written many articles on British military history, mainly on the Napoleonic and First World Wars, and served as a member of the International Historical Committee for the restoration of the Waterloo Battlefield. He is the author of MALBOROUGH: HERO OF BLENHEIM (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004) and is a Fellow of the Royal Historial Society. Hew Strachan is Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews and was formerly the Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford.


"John Hussey's magnum opus on the Waterloo campaign is a magisterial work which is unlikely ever to be beaten for detail and objectivity. This book. which is only the first volume and takes us up to the eve of the battle. goes comprehensively and thoroughly into the minds of the commanders and staff through contemporary source documents. In this way readers are able to judge for themselves regarding many of the controversies. The book is beautifully written, well mapped, and it will be the authoritative book on Waterloo for all time."

- Major-General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, KCVO, Chairman ‘Waterloo 200’, March 2017

"This book is a gem. Every chapter is filled with new information I have not seen before. It is a must-read for hose who are interested in the tumultuous events of 1815."

- Robert Burnham, editor-in-chief, The Napoleon Series, March 2017

"It will be decades before this book is superseded as the Best account of those extraordinary events of 1815."

- Professor Andrew Roberts, author of Napoleon the Great, March 2017

"beautifully written and exhaustively researched; John Hussey's book will hold the field for a very long time."

- Professor Sir Hew Strachan, March 2017

"…it is pretty much a slam dunk… The author has used sources in four languages to tell this amazing story… If you are looking for a one volume history of Napoleon's escape from Elba to the twin battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny, this is it. I cannot wait for the release of Volume II, and the author's telling of the battles of Waterloo and Wavre.”

- A Wargamer's Needful Things

"The strategic and multinational focus of this first of two volumes on the Waterloo campaign makes it stand head and shoulders above the mass of books that only look at the battles; this will be one of the most important histories ever written in English on the events of 1815."

- Dr. Gregory W. Pedlow, author of On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington and the Campaign of 1815

"This new study of the 1815 campaign presents a fresh and meticulously researched account of one of the most climactic battles in history. Its breadth of scope is comprehensive, importantly including the political perspective and how it impacted upon the military operations. Its sources are exhaustive and the mastery of its analysis compelling. It forms an essential guide to all aspects of the final campaign of two of the nineteenth century's greatest commanders, Napoleon and Wellington."

- Philip Haythornthwaite, author of Waterloo Armies and The Napoleonic Source Book

"Volume I of Waterloo: The Campaign of 1815 is a brilliant tour de force, not least for its comprehensive coverage of matters that so many histories of warfare either ignore or skate over. Key facts, all of which impinge on command and control of an army or formation, need to be understood if one is really to comprehend what commanders had to cope with. I suspect they are simply not factored in by the vast majority of commentators and historians."

- Major-General Julian Thompson, CB, OBE

"These two volumes represent a comprehensive study of the events of 1815 that surpasses all previous studies of the subject. Future historians will be hard pressed to improve upon such a work! … Every stage of the story of 1815 is handled in great detail with the author having used many sources, and every chapter presents new information and tells the story of events in such a way that this work is a veritable encyclopaedia of the subject… If your family want to know what you want for Christmas, then make sure these two books are at the top of your wish list."

- The Waterloo Journal

"This volume has set the new gold standard against which to measure books about ‘Waterloo'. I cannot recommend it too highly."

- Clash of Steel

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