The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Britain and Europe

History Today, May 2004 | Go to article overview

The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries: Britain and Europe


Fighting Napoleon: Guerrillas, Bandits and Adventurers in Spain 1808-1814, by Charles Esdaile (Yale University Press, 25 [pounds sterling]), offers a new, and deeply researched interpretation of the Spanish guerrillas, showing that they were rarely civilians acting spontaneously.

The lives of everyday citizens and important court figures from the tumultuous reign of Napoleon are examined in The Age of Napoleon (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 12.99 [pounds sterling]) by veteran historian Alistair Horne.

One of European history's most critical periods is vividly brought to life in Napoleon and the Hundred Days (Simon & Schuster, 20 [pounds sterling]) by novelist and historian Stephen Coote.

Wellington's Smallest Victory: The Duke, the Model Maker and the Secret of Waterloo, by Peter Hofschroer (Faber, 14.99 [pounds sterling]), is a study of the diorama of the Battle of Waterloo, made in the 1830s, with a surprisingly small number of Prussians shown on the battlefield.

Using Bernard Cornwell's fictional hero Richard Sharpe as an inspiration, Matthew Morgan shows us what life would have been like for the men who fought in the light-infantry, the British Army's most prestigious force, in Wellington's Victories: A Guide to Sharpe's Army 1797-1815 (Michael O'Mara, 9.99 [pounds sterling]).

Similarly, A Nelson Companion: A Guide to the Royal Navy of Jack Aubrey (Michael O'Mara, 9.99 [pounds sterling]) compiled by C. Maynard, is a guide to the nautical world as it existed two hundred years ago, with unfamiliar terms explained and the ships mapped and detailed.

A History of the Peninsular War (Greenhill, 14.99 [pounds sterling]) by Sir Charles Oman is a reprint of the first two volumes of the multi-volume classic text covering the war between Napoleon and the rest of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The complete series will be available in May 2005.

Medicine Transformed: Health, Disease and Society in Europe 1800-1930 (Manchester University Press, 17.99 [pounds sterling]), edited by Deborah Brunton, is a series of essays which explore topics such as military and colonial medicine and access to care, showing how change did not always imply progress. A source book of the same title (hb 49.99 [pounds sterling] pb 16.99 [pounds sterling]), also edited by Brunton, accompanies the text and includes extracts from contemporary writings as well as a helpful guide to up-to-date work in the field.

Sarah Wise shows how a series of crimes led to controversial legislation which effectively spelled the end of body-snatching in Britain in The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave-Robbery in 1830s London (Jonathan Cape, 17.99 [pounds sterling]).

Reforming the Tsar's Army, edited by David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Bruce W. Menning (Cambridge University Press, 45 [pounds sterling]) examines how Imperial Russia's armed forces sought to adapt to the challenges of modern warfare.

Count Sergei Witte and the Twilight of Imperial Russia: A Biography (M.E. Sharpe $59.95) by Sidney Harcave is the first English biography of Witte, the minister who spearheaded industrial modernisation in Russia at the end of the 19th century. …

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