2 1 2 Stars Read after favorable review in The Economist and by several here Yet, it falls short Incredible amounts of information but hardly a compelling style or organization Hugely repetitive for example, the transition from clerks paid, essentially, by bribe to salaried clerks, is mentioned in nearly every section The most common phrase in the book is as we saw in Chapter The last few chapters starting with finance are good And one has to enjoy knowing that the watchword for troops quartered in Tulla to quell tensions among resentful Catholic Irish was Stand Off I am loaded page 442.Still, until then, it reads as if it were a stapled together selection of quotes The footnotes actually are a distraction, as if the author wanted to show off extra, but irrelevant, research When he says 1 4 of the carronades supplied in August and September 1804 failed their proof test, I thought a significant fact was to be revealed but the author doesn t follow through with what would have been useful a record however incomplete of improvement over the course of the war To be fair, a few pages later, the book details the change in delivery of muskets 40,000 in 1803 167,000 in 1804.Canning, writing about the Trinity House pilotage and bouyage service, which had plans to sink ships in the Thames should Napoleon invade If blocks should the nation deliverTwo places are safe from the French The one is the mouth of the RiverThe other the Treasury Bench Britain, for most of these wars, faced a strategic difficulty in going on to the offensive through what has been called the amphibious bottleneck The sea gave Britain two advantages It acted as a defensive shield against invasion and allowed the transport of goods and military stores cheaply and quickly But the dependence on wind and weather also made it extremely difficult to transport by sea an army that was large enough to gain ground quickly and achieve an element of surprise.The historical headlines have been usurped by Napoleon and Wellington, the drama of Waterloo and the Congress of Vienna The foundations of military victory, though, lay in the industrial capacity of cannon founders, the expertise of gunsmiths in their machine shops, the diligence of shipbuilders and the makers of ropes, uniforms, gun carriages and gunpowder, the hard work of those who toiled in the increasingly efficient agricultural sector, the merchant seaman whose ships transported vital stores and food, and the crews of packet ships who provided the means of communications throughout the year. A fascinating insight into the logistics and finance which went into Britain s war effort against Napoleon and the unsung heroes who kept Nelson s fleet and Wellington s army supplied with guns, food, ammunition, gunpowder etc and the root and branch reform of Britain s institutions In my small bit of the planet, making a documentary television series on Napoleon, this book is outstanding A massively needed account of a gap in the history of the Napoleonic era Invites readers to think of the Napoleonic Wars as a World War, equivalent to 2WW. This is an extraordinarily thorough and readable history for which the author deserves the highest praise The enthusiasm with which Knight approaches a potentially quite dry topic administration and logistics lends the writing a certain spark which makes it surprisingly gripping I will admit that after each chapter 30 pages I found myself quite tired Knight certainly packs in a lot of information, and leaves the reader with many interesting concepts to ponder This history gave me a new perspective of the Napoleonic Wars that works very well in complement with traditional military and political histories It is a behind the scenes look at the British war effort that will connect many dots for an avid reader of Napoleonic history For a casual reader looking to dip into Napoleonic history for the first time, I would not recommend it Not only is it very dense, it also assumes a general knowledge of the course of events in the wars Important events such as the Treaty of Amiens and the Treaty of Tilsit are frequently mentioned but not fully described or explained Further, the book is arranged thematically, with the result that Knight jumps through the full course of the wars 1793 1815 in every chapter It is not a chronological history, and hence requires prior knowledge to prevent frustration.Overall I would certainly recommend this to readers of Napoleonic history that seek an understanding of the importance of government planning, policy, administration and logistics in orchestrating a significant war effort. Roger Knight s book about how many aspects of British society contributed to the defeat of Napoleon is a huge book, which is crammed full of detailed research I learned so much in reading this account, including how the warships were built, maintained, manned and sailed, how the army was supplied and funded, how government was reorganised and administered efficiently and lots, lots Knight tells the stories of the great characters involved in the fight against the Emperor including those in government such as prime ministers William Pitt Spencer Percival and the civil service such as John Barrow at the admiralty He also tells us about the military leaders we know so well and of the bankers and financiers such as Nathan Rothschild who enabled the government to raise funds and to pay money to contractors, suppliers, service men and foreign allies at the right time.The detail Knight squeezes into his masterpiece is incredible for example he tells us quite a lot about gun and gun powder manufacture.In fact, there is so much in this book I found it quite overwhelming at times and it did take me quite a long time to get through it However, the effort was well worth it. Outstanding book on how the British government organized itself and leveraged its resources to beat Napoleon This is a thoroughly comprehensive, erudite and exceedingly well researched account of the British government, civil service and bureaucratic inrastructure of the Napoleonic wars Given its narrow focus it won t be read by many, but for those with an interest in the period it is hard to see this being bettered for a long time 25 years ago I decided not to pursue a PhD on the foreign policy of the Portland Government 1807 09 a wise choice that I have never regretted Had I done so, this is the sort of book that I would have aspired to write It was nice to be reminded of some of the politicians that I studied and wrote about. For Than Twenty Years After , The French Army Was Supreme In Continental Europe Only At Sea Was British Power Dominant, Though Even With This Crucial Advantage The British Population Lived Under Fear Of A French Invasion For Much Of Those Two Decades How Was It That Despite Multiple Changes Of Government And The Assassination Of A Prime Minister, Britain Survived And Eventually Won A Generation Long War Against A Regime Which At Its Peak In Commanded Many Times The Resources And Manpower This Book Looks Beyond The Familiar Exploits Of The Army And Navy To The Politicians And Civil Servants, And Examines How They Made It Possible To Continue The War At All It Shows The Degree To Which The Capacities Of The Whole British Population Were Involved Industrialists, Farmers, Shipbuilders, Cannon Founders, Gunsmiths And Gunpowder Manufacturers All Had Continually To Increase Quality And Output As The Demands Of The War Remorselessly Grew The Intelligence War Was Also Central Yet No Participants Were Important, He Argues, Than The Bankers And International Traders Of The City Of London, Who Played A Critical Role In Financing The Wars And Without Whom The Armies Of Britain S Allies Could Not Have Taken The FieldThe Duke Of Wellington Famously Said That The Battle Which Finally Defeated Napoleon Was The Nearest Run Thing You Ever Saw In Your Life This Book Shows How True That Was For The Napoleonic War As A Whole Pages Narrative, Pages In Total Very dense, there is an awful lot of information to digest It is mostly in thematic rather than chronological order, although there is a rough division based around the 1802 Peace of Amiens, where Britain was out of the war I probably ought to have read this after some general histories of the Napoleonic Wars That said, it really does convey the sheer scale of the effort over twenty years to defeat France The author certainly makes their case well that this was a total war akin to the word wars, in my opinion.
Roger John Beckett Knight is one of the leading scholars in the field of 18th century and Napoleonic era British naval history A former Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, he is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has served as a member of the council of both the Society for Nautical Research and the Navy Records Society.
- 678 pages
- Britain Against Napoleon: The Organization of Victory, 1793-1815
- R.J.B. Knight
- 21 December 2017 R.J.B. Knight