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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Warfare
Gunther Rothenberg's "The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon" is a highly readable survey of the changes in the art of war during the 23-year conflict spawned by the French Revolution and the Wars of Napoleon. Despite its brevity, "The Art of Warfare" is remarkably comprehensive, addressing weapons, tactics, strategy, and supporting military services such as...
Published on April 25, 2005 by D. S. Thurlow

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Full of nuts and bolts, but is it Art?
An overview of the Napoleonic Wars, looking at the various national armies involved, how they worked and how they changed over the period. A title like "The *Art* of Warfare" makes me expect more about strategy and tactics, psychology and out-thinking the other guys (or lots of sprawling battlefield paintings and jacques-Louis David portraits), but it turns out that's not...
Published 21 months ago by Caleb Hanson


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Warfare, April 25, 2005
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
Gunther Rothenberg's "The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon" is a highly readable survey of the changes in the art of war during the 23-year conflict spawned by the French Revolution and the Wars of Napoleon. Despite its brevity, "The Art of Warfare" is remarkably comprehensive, addressing weapons, tactics, strategy, and supporting military services such as engineering and medical care. Rothenberg provides a short synopsis of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and commentary on the military establishments of the principal combatants.

Rothenberg rightly devotes much of the book to the innovations of the French Army as it evolved under the necessity first of defending the Revolution and then under the hand of its martial Emperor, Napoleon I. The concept of the nation in arms made possible mass armies which often overwhelmed the small professional armies of its adversaries. Lack of training led to an emphasis on shock in battle, produced by fast moving infantry columns, massed artillery fire, and operational maneuver against the flanks and rear of opponents. Rothenberg notes the effects of a persistent French failure to build a robust supply system. French soldiers in the field were expected to forage to survive. The Army as a whole was forced to disperse to find food, and Napoleon had to rely on exquisite timing to mass his forces in time for battle. The lack of a supply train imparted operational mobility, but when foraging failed, as it did in Russia, or provoked guerrilla war, as it did in Spain, French soldiers starved or were picked off in ambush.

The many success of the French Army prompted varying degrees of emulation by the Austrian, Prussian, Russian, and British armies. The Prussians sought most to copy the French methodology, while the British prefered to enhance the professionalism of their forces rather than build a mass army.

Rothenberg wrote "The Art of Warfare" in 1978. Close students of the Napoleonic Wars will find a few mistakes, and the volume has a surprising number of misspellings. However, these imperfections really do not detract from what is an excellent work.

This volume is highly recommended to the student looking for a manageable introduction to the Napoleonic Wars, and to the serious student as a superb companion volume to the longer operational-level histories. The casual reader with some background in military affairs may also find this book a worthwhile read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical Napoleonic Wars book, February 26, 2006
By 
Holff (Zhuhai China) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
Rothenberg expands on the typical Napoleon book about war by concentrating on the human factor by explaining what the soldiers went through in victory and defeat.

Rothenberg also dissects the French Army like few of his contemporaries by starting with the pre-revolutionary make-up through the advances which made Napoleon famous and victorious.

Well written and educational, necesary as a companion to other classics as Swords Around a Throne by Elting, How Far From Austerlitz by Horne, European Diplomacy by Ross, and biographies by Markham and Schom.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy me, August 17, 2003
By 
D. A Butler (Murfreesboro, tn United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
I have several books titled 'Art of Warfare' covering several military history periods, and for the life of me I cannot understand why they are all so thinly bound! I wish Gunther Rothenberg had kept going, but perhaps there is only so much to say on certain topics without getting into the details of decisions made by the commanders themselves. In any case, this book is a prized part of my Napoleonic history collection, and serves as a useful complement to Elting's 'Swords around the Throne'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great reference for study or research., February 28, 2011
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
This work is a clear, concise and readable work on French organization, strategy, and tactics from the French Revolution to Waterloo. The book also covers the enemies of France during that time period. For such a small book, less than 300 pages, Rothenberg provides a wealth of information. I found myself repeatedly underlining passages in this book. A great reference to be used in any study of the epoch. Well worth the modest cost, highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers What It Promises, June 14, 2014
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
As a lay reader interested in the period, I found this book to be easy to read. It is chock full of information not easily found elsewhere in one place, and does an excellent job of providing a broad-brush view of Napoleonic militaries and the forces that formed them. The book starts with a review of military thinking and practices of the period just before the French Revolution, and then quickly and easily explains how the cataclysm of the Revolution changed everything -- sooner for the French, or later for most other European powers. There is relatively little description of individual battles; rather the emphasis is on general practices and approaches. Topics include the snap shots of life of soldiers -- not enough to bog you down with detail, but enough to give you a sense of how they lived. Information of weapons of the three branches of the army (infantry, cavalry, artillery) are described and compared across the competing powers. Other topics include the different types and styles of leadership, how officers were chosen, the strategies and tactics explained, the challenges faced in moving large armies without adequate infrastructure (e.g., roads), fortifications and how they were assaulted, camp followers, organization and lack thereof (can you imagine relying on hired civilians to transport your artillery during a campaign?), medical services, and the problems of staff, illness, governmental oversight, planning, and logistics at a time when communication rarely went faster than a man on horseback.

The author, Rothenberg (1923 - 2004), was himself a military man, serving the British Army in North Africa (including service in Intelligence). He went on to become an internationally known military historian, "best known for his publications on the Hapsburg military and Napoleonic Wars." His background in intelligence may help explain well he has chosen, organized, and presented the information in this very informative book.

The book does suffer from a few occasionally annoying sentence fragments, typos and misspellings. The book also uses British punctuation and spellings. Given the chance, I would encourage the publisher to do a better job of editing. But all in all, these are minor complaints that have little to do with the great content provided. I found the book to be a great overview, filling in a few of the missing jigsaw pieces not covered by the other books I've read (both serious histories and novels) on the period. If you're a lay reader wanting to understand the era's military, this book is an excellent choice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, December 16, 2013
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
A complete study about the napoleonic warfare and the development of the different Armies of the napoleonic era.
A "must" for the scholars of this matter.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Full of nuts and bolts, but is it Art?, November 1, 2012
By 
Caleb Hanson (Wilmington, MA, US) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
An overview of the Napoleonic Wars, looking at the various national armies involved, how they worked and how they changed over the period. A title like "The *Art* of Warfare" makes me expect more about strategy and tactics, psychology and out-thinking the other guys (or lots of sprawling battlefield paintings and jacques-Louis David portraits), but it turns out that's not what this book is about. Instead, it's mostly about organization, comparing numbers of battalions per regiment, regiments per demi-brigade, etc., over time and between armies; also logistics, staff, artillery weight, medical corps, and suchlike. The information is good for people want to find that sort of thing, I learned new things--but it wasn't what I'd been hoping for going in.

The bigger downside--look,I know some things really bug me that would never bother the average reader. But the spelling (can't decide between British and American English), the grammar, and especially the punctuation are so bad that the sheer work involved in reading really lessens the experience.

The content is good for what it is, but between the wretched editing and my disappointment over the subject I just cannot get excited about it.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An often cited reference, December 23, 1999
By 
David P. Wester (Marshall, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
Rothenberg's book is a highly respected source for those interested in the nuts and bolts of battle in the Napoleonic period. No maps or plates, not a general history. Often mentioned in bibliographies of more recent Napleonic works.
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11 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An often cited reference, December 23, 1999
By 
David P. Wester (Marshall, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon (Paperback)
Rothenberg's book is a highly respected source for those interested in the nuts and bolts of battle in the Napoleonic period. No maps or plates, not a general history. Often mentioned in bibliographies of more recent Napleonic works.
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The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon
The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon by Gunther Erich Rothenberg (Paperback - February 1, 1981)
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