on June 2, 2012
Slow start, ended much better.
Had a large introductory chapter on the French Revolution, and its effect on the French Navy. This is great if you are unfamiliar with the era, a little much if you are not. Another chapter on the Royal Navy.
However, the description and evaluation of the Toulon siege itself (and the personalities involved), are very good. This campaign is often thought of as a footnote, interesting only due to Napoleon's involvement at Toulon, where he served as a young captain of artillery in his first combat command.
A book-length treatment was sorely needed, and this fills that need quite well. Some good maps and illustrations.
on May 14, 2009
This book surely surprises the reader with the depth of knowledge that Mr Ireland has on the subject. After an introduction about the general situation of France in 1793 and the Revolution affairs, he devotes two chapters to analyse the conditions of the French and Royal Navy in the same period, presenting many interesting and unknown details. The real sory about the Toulon siege begins after half the pages and the name of Bonaparte comes on the surface only a few times. The author deals mainly with the "allied" side explaining the decisions made by Admiral Hood, his officers and the British and Spanish generals. Carteaux, Doppe and Dumourie are somehow second rate figures as is the French republican army as a whole. There are a few nice black & white maps with all the relevant geographical points and some pages with excellent colour photographs, mainly of old paintings. Despite the Bonaparte ommision, this is a tremendous book about the fall of Toulon and highly recommended.
on December 31, 2011
The siege of Toulon by the Republican forces in 1793 is usually best known as the occasion of the beginning of Napoleon Buonaparte's (as he was then called) meteoric rise. As this book amply shows, the story of the siege of Toulon is fascinating in its own right as well. The dramatic course of events, from the triumphant entry of the British fleet and its Spanish and Italian allies into Toulon, to the dismal evacuation under the fire of Napoleon's batteries a few months later, is presented in good prose.
The intricacies and details are all investigated very well and on the whole the book is a good example how to write an in-depth narrative of a relatively small episode in an eventful era. The epilogue is especially thought-provoking.
I have one complaint about the book - the first two chapters that supply general background about the French Revolution are not very sound, in my opinion. Some of the interpretations are rather quaint, to say the least. But this should not detract from the value of the book, for once properly naval and military matters are discussed, Mr. Ireland quickly gets into stride.
So, to sum up, this is a very good and useful book.