Academic journal article Military Review

The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo

Academic journal article Military Review

The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo

Article excerpt

THE LONGEST AFTERNOON: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo

Brendan Simms, Basic Books, New York, 2015, 208 pages

The Longest Afternoon is a historical account of the Battle for the Farm of La Haye Sainte, the precursor to the Battle of Waterloo. The book is cleverly written in a third-person, omniscient narrative form. The author walks the reader through a minute-by-minute account of detailed actions by major and minor characters throughout the battle. Through his clever ability to entwine first-person accounting with historical narrative, Simms allows the reader to explore the many facets of the battle in detailed depth and vivid focus.

The book spans approximately three days. Simms begins on Saturday, 17 June 1815, the day following Wellington's Anglo-Allied army's retreat from the Battle at Quatre Bras, and ends two days later, the day after the Battle for the Farm of La Haye Sainte, with the retreat of Napoleon's French army. The main theme of the book is to account for the significance of this battle and to recognize the overwhelming impact that the bravery and courage of the 2nd Light Battalion of the King's German Legion--part of the Anglo-Allied army--had on the final outcome.

This is a very authoritative piece. Between the number of powerful first-person accounts and detailed historical events, the book reads as a minute-by-minute eyewitness accounting. The deliberate story line and powerful detailing leaves little room for question.

The greatest attraction of this book is its ability to tell the story of the battle in a very realistic sense. …

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