The Waterloo Archive, Volume VI: British Sources

B2150

The publisher has written a fine and comprehensive list of leading books covering military history from ancient to modern times. Of particular value is the fine list of primary source information. When Gareth Glover embarked on his epic research of primary source material to relate to the Battle of Waterloo, he may not have envisaged such a comprehensive and effective gathering of information. This book is the last volume in his endeavours and any reader who has purchased one volume is sure to have eagerly awaited the next volume to be published. This presents something of a challenge for a reviewer. With most books, there is a clear primary readership, who would purchase a book because it directly filled their need for entertainment or information. This book has what may be an irregular readership. The core readership will be those who want to be able to draw their own conclusions about an incredibly important battle in a history filled with battles. There will be enthusiasts who like to challenge some of the conclusions set out by authors and historians. There will also be those who descend from people who were in some way involved in the events and who are trying to understand those who were their direct ancestral predecessors. Then there will be many enthusiasts and professionals who normally cover a different genre but want to learn about how the events leading to and following from Waterloo have affected their special niche of interest. There will be many more who find this comprehensive work applicable to their interests.

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NAME: The Waterloo Archive, Volume VI: British Sources
DATE: 200215
FILE: R2150
AUTHOR: Editor Gareth Glover
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, frontline
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 328
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Napoleonic Wars, final defeat, Waterloo, primary sources
ISBN: 1-84832-728-5
IMAGE: B2150.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/pvmnva8
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The publisher has written a fine and comprehensive list of leading books covering military history from ancient to modern times. Of particular value is the fine list of primary source information. When Gareth Glover embarked on his epic research of primary source material to relate to the Battle of Waterloo, he may not have envisaged such a comprehensive and effective gathering of information. This book is the last volume in his endeavours and any reader who has purchased one volume is sure to have eagerly awaited the next volume to be published. This presents something of a challenge for a reviewer. With most books, there is a clear primary readership, who would purchase a book because it directly filled their need for entertainment or information. This book has what may be an irregular readership. The core readership will be those who want to be able to draw their own conclusions about an incredibly important battle in a history filled with battles. There will be enthusiasts who like to challenge some of the conclusions set out by authors and historians. There will also be those who descend from people who were in some way involved in the events and who are trying to understand those who were their direct ancestral predecessors. Then there will be many enthusiasts and professionals who normally cover a different genre but want to learn about how the events leading to and following from Waterloo have affected their special niche of interest. There will be many more who find this comprehensive work applicable to their interests.

Some will ask why primary sources are important when there are so many books of fact and fiction, written by established historians and authors. Through history, the established wisdom of events and people has been written by the victors or their acolytes. Sometimes those individuals have deliberately destroyed any material that questions their version of events. Happily, we are now in an information age where huge volumes of documents and artefacts have been preserved and collected into museums and archives, providing the potential means to review the accepted wisdom about recent events. The challenge is in visiting the collections, researching and recording the material and then considering how this newly available information challenges accepted wisdom.

As this review is being written, Britain is preparing to rebury a monarch who died in battle half a millennia ago and who had been largely and physically lost to history. His remaining footprint had been of a violent usurper who had killed children to secure the throne. Some inspired archaeology led to his discovery under a car park in a relatively uninspiring East Midlands Cathedral City. From that point, rapid research, using his remains as the starting point, have led to the preparations for a televised re-burial and to discord between cities that feel a claim to the remains. Those who have supported this Medieval King against the established historical reputation, written by those who deposed him, have led to claims on his behalf that produce a very different impression of the man and the monarch. The challenge is that there is very little new information available and no new primary sources. The two camps will therefore continue to argue their views with little prospect of establishing a new and well-founded consensus.

With Glover’s work on the Waterloo sources, we have the very real prospect of being able to revisit earlier conclusions and test them against this primary source material. Historians will get excited, enthusiasts will feel a stronger connection to the past, descendents will feel closer to their forebears, new levels of understanding will develop and so many will benefit. That all makes this volume and its sisters a very valuable expansion of our knowledge of history.

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