Salamanca Campaign 1812 (Peninsular War Battlefield Companion) - Tim Saunders

Salamanca Campaign 1812 (Peninsular War Battlefield Companion) - Tim Saunders

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years that I’ve been reviewing books for this site is that sometimes it pays you to just say, “I have no preference, just send me whatever.” I’ve been pleasantly surprised at what has come my way, mainly books that I thought wouldn’t have interested me and certainly not books that I would have bought for myself. This is the latest that I have received from my ‘pot-luck’ choice, and it’s a winner.

I like this author’s style, he’s my idea of a true historian, presenting what he knows at this time and not presenting everything as absolute irrefutable fact, set in concrete, unlike my history teachers at school.

There are lots of maps (about 50) but I feel many are a little too big for their purpose. – Whilst each is useful in its own way, I really wish a basic location/orientation map had been included for people like me that are not too hot on geography.

I would also have liked a little more background to the conflict itself. As it was, I had to resort to google to fill in the background. “…was a battle in which an Anglo-Portuguese army under the Earl of Wellington defeated Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces at Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain, during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.”

I have to admit that I did refer to google rather a lot as I progressed through the book. It’s not that the book is badly written or anything, it’s that I was always seeking just that ‘little bit more’. Actually, it wasn’t so much the main body of the text that had me searching google but the very interesting diversions and excursions the author takes us on. There is an incredibly interesting few pages dedicated to British infantry swords.

The book also contains lots of plates and pictures, most very good quality, and all of them relevant and inserted appropriately within the text and not as a block where you need to keep referring back and forth.

Like many history books, this one teaches us much more than just the detail of the battle. I particularly like the tag line on the rear of the dust jacket, “Background reading for studies in defence, manoeuvres and logistics”, especially with references early on in the book from Wellington about his struggles to keep his forces supplied. There are definitely lessons to be learned.

This is another slice of history that I was blissfully unaware about, but now at least have a ‘working’ knowledge; so, I am going to award it 4 anchors. There is really nothing to dislike about this book, it’s an easy read, properly thought through and gives you the basics as the author currently understands them.

I didn’t notice any typos or other errors, which is not only unusual for me but very rare for this publisher. (Maybe I was simply engrossed and missed them?) At the time of writing, this book is available at a whopping 43% discount on Amazon. That to my mind is a steep discount for a book that has only been launched about a month ago, and I consider it a bargain price.
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