For more than twenty years after 1793, the French army was supreme in continental Europe, and the British population lived in fear of French invasion. How was it that despite multiple changes of government and the assassination of a Prime Minister, Britain survived and won a generation-long war against a regime which at its peak in 1807 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, as the demands of the war remorselessly grew, the whole British population had to play its part. The intelligence war was also central. Yet no participants were more important, Roger Knight argues, than the bankers and traders of the City of London, without whose financing the armies of Britain's allies could not have taken the field.
The 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.
Roger Knight was Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum until 2000, and now teaches at the Greenwich Maritime Institute at the University of Greenwich. In 2005 he published, with Allen Lane/Penguin, The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson, which won the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military History, the Mountbatten Award and the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. The present book is a culmination of his life-long interest in the workings of the late 18th-century British state.
In 1812 the most powerful man in the world assembled the largest army in history and marched on Moscow with the intention of consolidating his dominion. But within months, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia – history’s first example of total war – had turned into an epic military disaster. Over 400,000 French and Allied troops perished and Napoleon was forced to retreat.
Adam Zamoyski’s masterful work draws on the harrowing first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict. The result takes the reader beyond the invasion of Russia to present both a poignant tale of the individual foot soldier and a sweeping history of a turbulent time.