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Known collectively as the 'Great War', for over a decade the Napoleonic Wars engulfed not only a whole continent but also the overseas possessions of the leading European states. A war of unprecedented scale and intensity, it was in many ways a product of change that acted as a catalyst for upheaval and reform across much of Europe, with aspects of its legacy lingering to this very day. There is a mass of literature on Napoleon and his times, yet there are only a handful of scholarly works that seek to cover the Napoleonic Wars in their entirety, and fewer still that place the conflict in any broader framework. This study redresses the balance. Drawing on recent findings and applying a 'total' history approach, it explores the causes and effects of the conflict, and places it in the context of the evolution of modern warfare. It reappraises the most significant and controversial military ventures, including the war at sea and Napoleon's campaigns of 1805-9. The study gives an insight into the factors that shaped the war, setting the struggle in its wider economic, cultural, political and intellectual dimensions.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712607193
ISBN-10: 0712607196
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x 25mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Feb-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » Napoleon may eventually have met his Waterloo, but his influence never has. It still permeates Europe and even influences the US political outlook. But why should a discredited, defeated and humiliated emperor remain so influential nearly 200 years after his death? Historian David Gates points to 1803-1815 as the defining years for an answer, considering Napoleon's earlier campaigns mere preludes for the real thing. Strategic detail abounds in what is a scholarly study and not an especially easy read. Gates tries to get into the minds of Napoleon and his adversaries but points out that the wars were about far more than military exploits. It is impossible to understand the nature of European conflicts in that age without taking account of the economic, cultural and social backgrounds against which they were set. Arguing against the common view that Napoleon was a master of improvisation, Gates holds that the emperor plotted each campaign to its finest detail and adhered to the battle plan come what may. He knows his subject to an astonishing degree, unearthing information that other historians have either missed or failed to see the significance of. His analysis of the causes and effects of the conflict and his appraisal of the military ventures on both sides are a model of objectivity. This may not be the last word on such a crucial part of history but it won't be easily bettered. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - David Gates

David Gates was Deputy Director and Senior Fellow of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies. He is the author of The Spanish Ulcer, and lives in Lancashire.

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