The Longest Afternoon : The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo Paperback
'A superb little book that is micro-history at its best' Washington Post'The brevity of this remarkable book belies the amount of work that went into it.
One can only marvel at how well Professor Simms has gone through the original sources - the surviving journals, reminiscences and letters of the individual combatants - to produce a coherent and gripping narrative' Nick Lezard, GuardianThe true story, told minute by minute, of the soldiers who defeated Napoleon - from Brendan Simms, acclaimed author of Europe: The Struggle for SupremacyEurope had been at war for over twenty years. After a short respite in exile, Napoleon had returned to France and threatened another generation of fighting across the devastated and exhausted continent. At the small Belgian village of Waterloo two large, hastily mobilized armies faced each other to decide the future of Europe.Unknown either to Napoleon or Wellington the battle would be decided by a small, ordinary group of British and German troops given the task of defending the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte. This book tells their extraordinary story, brilliantly recapturing the fear, chaos and chanciness of battle and using previously untapped eye-witness reports. Through determination, cunning and fighting spirit, some four hundred soldiers held off many thousands of French and changed the course of history.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 160 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 07/05/2015
- ISBN: 9780141979267
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Review by jcbrunner
Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte were the compounds in the Belgian landscape that broke up Napoleon's attacks against Wellington's line at Waterloo. While the defense of Hougoumont has been told many times, the smaller but more important fight for La Haye Sainte has not received as much attention, probably because it was defended by the British King's German Legion (KGL). It was a close run thing and after a heroic defense during the whole afternoon, the German soldiers had to abandon their defense due to a lack of ammunition (even though neighboring units had plenty of ammunition left and could have given them to the KGL men). Their heroic defense all afternoon had already disrupted the French attacks so that the short possession of La Haye Sainte by the French in the evening proved short-lived.Brendan Simms' short micro history account of the unit and the event is well written and covers the action in detail. An ideal quick read for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo.