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1805: Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition Hardcover – August 20, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Goetz was awarded the esteemed 2005 History Grand Prize of the Fondation Napoléon on December 6, 2005 for his book 1805: Austerlitz; Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition (Greenhill Books, 2005). Awarded annually in Paris by the Fondation Napoléon, the Grands Prix are presented to the best works of Napoleonic literature. Gathering the award for the best non-French language book, Goetz’s 1805: Austerlitz specifically highlights the Battle of Austerlitz – a battle almost universally regarded as the most impressive of Napoleon’s many victories.

The Fondation Napoléon was founded in 1987 to promote interest and research on topics surrounding the Napoleonic era, both encouraging and supporting many different projects all with the same primary aims, namely, a deeper understanding of the period and the preservation and highlighting of the Napoleonic heritage. The Grand Prizes are selected each year by a jury composed of some of the world's best First and Second Empire historians.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books; New Edition edition (August 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853676446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853676444
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Robert Goetz, an international sales consultant and Napoleonic aficionado, delivers a meticulously researched account of Napoleon's stunning defeat of the Third Coalition in 1805: Austerlitz. Goetz has spent years researching the Russian army of this period and his narrative is the first that covers their perspective in detail, although the author is fair in his treatment of the French and Austrians. Compared to earlier works by Duffy and Bowden, this book by Goetz provides a higher level of detail - in fact, too much detail for any but the most die-hard Napoleonic enthusiasts. The author's main focus is to provide a very detailed analysis of the order of battle, unit strengths and casualties, but the actual battle narrative sometimes drowns under this veritable tsunami of data. 1805: Austerlitz offers an excellent reference book on the campaign and it clearly enlarges the information available on this battle, but it will appeal to a fairly limited audience.

1805: Austerlitz consists of eight chapters, three of which discuss the formation of the Third Coalition, the Ulm Campaign and the movement to Austerlitz. Goetz' chapter on the background to war is unusually good because he goes beyond the typical examination of the three main armies to discuss the forces and plans of all the coalition partners, including Sweden and Naples. Most books virtually ignore events in this war beyond Bavaria and Austria. Goetz is to be applauded for putting Austerlitz in proper strategic context. The description of the Ulm phase is good, although not much different from other accounts. Four chapters discuss the battle itself in great detail, covering the four main phases (Allied attack, French counterattack, French exploitation, Allied retreat).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written by a first time amateur (in the best sense of the word) historian. Lucid description of the strategic and tactical context of the battle. Napoleon neither hustles to glory a la Connelly, nor envisions the perfect plan a la his bulletins. Rather he's prepared to retreat, plans to turn the Allied right, then takes advantage of the Allie's empty center.
Goetz is very concerned with precisely describing what actually happened. It becomes clear in the text or footnotes at many points in the narrative that Goetz has discovered a commonly repeated misconception. This was particularly apparent in the dramatic story of the clash between the Russian Cavalier Guard and the French Imperial Guard Grenadiers a Cheval. I cross referenced the 3 most accessible English texts. All 3 portray the Russian Guard as advancing on the center trying to restore the disastrous situation - Goetz points out the Tsar's brother was trying desperately to leave the field but remain in contact with the army HQ. All 3 have the Russian foot guard racing 300 yards up hill to attack, then cavalry clashes deciding the action; Goetz has the column's cavalry discovering and routing isolated French battalions, then battling the French guard cavalry to allow the foot to escape, an ultimately successful rearguard action. Night and day, and thoroughly convincing.
A must buy for anyone interested in the battle.
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Format: Hardcover
The battle of Austerlitz was one of the battles that changed the course of European history for several generations. It was the climax of a brief campaign between Napoleon - the recently crowned Emperor of France - and the Third Coalition - Which was mainly Russia and Austria with some financial support from Great Britain. While the book spends the bulk of its pages on the battle itself, it does set up the battle within the context of the overall war and campaign that preceded it as well as the results of the battle.

The first few pages are dedicated to setting the stage. It discusses Napoleon's moves and the desperate maneuvering that brought about the Third Coalition. This section is very short and appears to be thrown in almost as an afterthought. Unless you already are aware of some of the players and the history, it will provide very little enlightment as some of the action are given a sentence or two with no rationale provided. So, you have to grasp the significance of any of these events on your own. As a newcomer, you will likely be scratching your head over what caused this war to even start.

The second part of the book describes the initial campaign from the declaration of war to the surrender of the Austrian army at Ulm and the movements that brought the French and Coalition armies together on 1 December 1805. This is another section that is very much a buildup to the main event. It makes for very dry reading as it seems to be page after page of recitations of the movements of one military unit after the other as they pass through various small towns in the countryside. Even with the help of the included maps, it makes for very hard slogging. It does not help that there are no anecodtes or anything to brighten up the very dull recitation of place names and dates.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used this book when working on a Napoleonic computer game of the 1805 campaign. I found this book to be a huge help. Not only does the author's revisionist ability help to get the numbers straight for the Allies at Austerlitz and destroy the myth that Napoleon was terribly outnumbered but he also inserts maps at his own expense (common in history books these days). The maps to me were worth the price of the book. Usually Napoleonic books have a dearth of maps and it leaves you having to constantly place the units on the maps mentally to get some sort of order out of where everyone was at a given time.

This remains my favorite book on the battle along with Scott Bowden's book on the campaign. A must have for all Napoleonic enthusiasts.
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