The Rare Bond of Two Great Generals; Napoleon & Wellington by Andrew Roberts (Phoenix, Pounds 8.99). Reviewed by Richard Warburton

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Warburton

War in the 21st century, as witnessed during the recent raids on Iraq, is more reliant on technology than military gall and tactical know-how.

Without the use of Shock and Awe, tomahawk missiles and cluster bombs, Napoleon led his Grand Armee across Europe, defeating virtually everything he came up against.

That was until he came face-to-face with the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo and finally met his military nemesis.

The backgrounds of Napoleon and Wellington form a well worn path for biographers, but Andrew Roberts - one of Britain's leading historians - has written an intelligent and original book that sets out to dispel the myths surrounding the relationship between the two generals.

Although they never met and only engaged in battle once, Napoleon and Wellington had a rare bond which Roberts sets out to explore and explain.

Avoiding the bottomless pit of biography, the book concentrates on what each man thought, wrote and said about the other, and also includes splendid quotations from contemporaries.

Roberts manages, with stoic impartiality, to portray both his subjects as military behemoths who thought just as much about the manner in which battles should be fought as about the result. …