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Wellington: The Iron Duke Paperback – February 3, 2003
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"In Holmes' surprisingly revisionist view, Wellington emerges as far better soldier than he was a loveable individual." -- The Times
From the Back Cover
In this compelling book – and hugely popular accompanying BBC series – Richard Holmes charts the extraordinary progress of Britain's greatest-ever soldier from the ruins of his family seat in Ireland to the plains of India, where Wellesley first gained his reputation as a brilliant and courageous commander, to the horrors of the Peninsular War and ultimately to Waterloo. Holmes excavates a brilliant figure, idealistic in politics, cynical in love, a wit, a beau, a man of enormous courage and iron duty often sickened by the horrors of war. However, Wellington's journey to greatness and recognition as the man who saved Europe from the tyranny of Napoleon, includes tales of philandering and exposes a man who sometimes despised the men he led, and was not always in control of them.
THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON WAS NOT ALWAYS GOOD, BUT HE WAS UNQUESTIONABLY GREAT, AND THIS LIVELY AND INFORMED BOOK IS SOCIAL, MILITARY AND BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY AT ITS FINEST
"Holmes has written the best life of Wellington that there is…Richard Holmes has returned from his long quest with an historical holy grail; the true character of Britain's grittiest soldier."
ANDREW ROBERTS, 'Sunday Telegraph'
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Top Customer Reviews
There are few of these great souls in the world. It does good to aquatint ourselves with them.
Holmes provides some useful insights. He suggests that exhaustion and strain were responsible for Wellington's uncharacteristically poor performance at the Siege of Burgos in 1812. Holmes examines the academic dispute over Wellington's relationship with the Prussians during the Waterloo Campaign; he tellingly notes Wellington's responsibilities to his alliance partners and to the British Government and finds that he served both. Holmes acknowledges Wellington's extramaritial activities but resists the urge to obsess over them or to indulge in psycological speculation.
Serious students of the Duke and of the Napoleonic Wars will find no new scholarship here; indeed, Holmes readily acknowledges his debt to earlier works such as Elizabeth Longford's exceptional biography and Jac Weller's battlefield narrative trilogy. Holmes has provided an accessible biography for the general reader, supported by well-chosen quotes from the Duke' contemporaries and by a nice selection of illustrations.
This book is highly recommended to the general reader with an interest in the man and the era.