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1805: Austerlitz: Napoleon And The Destruction Of The Third Coalition Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 20, 2005
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There are sources which I have long enjoyed, like Duffy's work, that simply get things wrong. Goetz did prodigious research and has put every officer and unit in the right place at the right time. FINALLY! It is nice to know how the battle on the Pratzen really happened and just who was there.
OK, the book is not a social history and doesn't have the drama of a more personalized account. Actually, given the dearth of source material on this battle, the author can't be faulted. But make no mistake, it is not poorly written, indeed, it is easy to read and the prose is crisp and well-written. Second, the book does focus on the Coalition, and in my opinion this is a good thing. There is more than enough French hero worship material out there if you want it.
So, this said, the perfect Austerlitz book has yet to be written, but when it is, it will owe a debt of thanks to Goetz's hard work and fine book.
This remains my favorite book on the battle along with Scott Bowden's book on the campaign. A must have for all Napoleonic enthusiasts.
The battle itself is well covered off with the author detailing the movement of forces and blow by blow account of the battle. In fact the detail is such that it sometimes hard to take all in, but thankfully the author had the foresight to use maps to show the movement of forces at various places & times of battle so the reader can better visualise his narrative. Goetz also makes use of some first hand accounts that give weight to his own explaination of battle.
The author suggests that was perhaps the French tactical prowess in the field (after months of training at Camp Bologne in anticipation of the invasion of Britain)that gave the French the edge. 'This was demonstrated repeatly by the effectiveness of their musketry, their cool maneuvering under fire, effective coordination of combined arms operations and larger larger scale maneuvers, and a superb discipline produced by high morale and complete confidence in their commanders'. The French command & control system also had flexibilty enabling commanders to adapt & maneuver their forces to changing situations to acheive ultimate mission objectives (that is very similar to the German Army in the WWII in its Blitzkreig). The Russian and Austrian forces typically seemed to be locked and awaiting orders from above losing valuable time & few officers used their initiative. Having said that the Russian & Austrian forces fought hard and bravely and at times were able to throw the French back. In the end it was Napoleon's careful planning, use of detailed information about the enemy and the ability to acheive numerical superiority at a given point that led to his decisive victory.
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By Robert Goetz
Greenhill Books 2005
368 pages, 20 maps, 40 illustrations, 8...Read more