On the morning of the battle of Waterloo, the Emperor Napoleon declared that the Duke of Wellington was a bad general, the British were bad soldiers and that France could not fail to win an easy victory. Forever afterwards historians have accused him of gross overconfidence, and massively underestimating the calibre of the British commander opposed to him. Andrew Roberts presents an original, highly revisionist view of the relationship between the two greatest captains of their age. Napoleon, who was born in the same year as Wellington - 1769 - fought Wellington by proxy years earlier in the Peninsula War, praising his ruthlessness in private while publicly deriding him as a mere 'sepoy general'. In contrast, Wellington publicly lauded Napoleon, saying that his presence on a battlefield was worth forty thousand men, but privately wrote long memoranda lambasting Napoleon's campaigning techniques. Although Wellington saved Napoleon from execution after Waterloo, Napoleon left money in hi s will to the man who had tried to assassinate Wellington. Wellington in turn amassed a series of Napoleonic trophies of his great victory, even sleeping with two of the Emperor's mistresses. The constantly changing relationship between these two nineteenth-century giants forms the basis of Andrew Roberts' compelling study in pride, rivalry, propaganda, nostalgia, and posthumous revenge.
In this study of Boney and the Iron Duke, historian Andrew Roberts presents, not a biography but an examination of the relationship between these two colossal figures of military genius who never met but who thought constantly about each other. Napoleon and Wellington, stripped of myth, live again in all their psychological complexity: born in 1769 and both technically foreigners in the countries they served, they had courage, enormous self-confidence, conviction and a couple of mistresses in common, and they both attempted to re-write history post-Waterloo. The one became emperor of France and the other prime minister of Britain, but they differed significantly in attitude, character and makeup. Napoleon left money in his will to Wellington's would-be assasin, but Wellington twice saved Napoleon's life. The reader also learns how surprisingly popular Napoleon was in certain British circles, and how often popular and political opinion went against Wellington - Byron detested him and in 1832 he was stoned by the London mob. Based on thorough and meticulous research, Roberts' fluently-written book is also a gripping story of two men favoured by chance, their egos and acts of hubris, and the fate of nations. The sheer scale of the Napoleonic Wars is indicated in awesome statistics and information about logistics and communications; armies often comprised hundreds of thousands and battles were fought as far south as Egypt and as far north as Moscow. Napoleon and Wellington is a 'must-have' for both the general and specialist reader. (Kirkus UK)