A landmark contribution to understanding the real man behind the heroic legend inspired by the triumph at Waterloo
The Duke of Wellington was not just Britain’s greatest soldier, although his seismic struggles as leader of the Allied forces against Napoleon in the Peninsular War deservedly became the stuff of British national legend. Wellington was much more: a man of vision beyond purely military matters, a politically astute thinker, and a canny diplomat as well as lover, husband, and friend. Rory Muir’s masterful new biography, the first of a two-volume set, is the fruit of a lifetime’s research and discovery into Wellington and his times. The author brings Wellington into much sharper focus than ever before, addressing his masterstrokes and mistakes in equal measure. Muir looks at all aspects of Wellington’s career, from his unpromising youth through his remarkable successes in India and his role as junior minister in charge of Ireland, to his controversial military campaigns. With dramatic descriptions of major battles and how they might have turned out differently, the author underscores the magnitude of Wellington’s achievements. The biography is the first to address the major significance of Wellington’s political connections and shrewdness, and to set his career within the wider history of British politics and the war against Napoleon. The volume also revises Wellington’s reputation for being cold and aloof, showing instead a man of far more complex and interesting character.
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Rory Muir is visiting research fellow, University of Adelaide. His previously published books include a highly praised study of Wellington’s great triumph at Salamanca and the edited letters of Alexander Gordon, Wellington’s confidential aide-de-camp. He lives in Australia.Review:
"Muir's painstaking recital of facts and descriptions of battles will delight military buffs."—Lawrence James, The Times
"The first major Life of Wellington since Elizabeth Longford's work of 1969-72, Rory Muir's biography is matched by an extensive commentary online (at www.lifeofwellington.co.uk). Muir comes to his task after long research on the wars against Napoleon, from both political and military perspectives . . . giv[ing] us an exceptional insight into the struggle, the changes that were necessary to sustain British forces, and the impact made by determined and ambitious individuals."—Chris Woolgar, Times Literary Supplement
"Mr. Muir provides an authoritative view . . . an important book."—Max Hastings, The Wall Street Journal
"A biography of Wellington that far outclasses all its numerous competitors and will be enjoyed by specialists and general readers alike: truly a splendid achievement."—Charles Esdaile, author of Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815
"This deeply researched and brilliantly written book supersedes all previous work on the subject. A masterpiece."—Tim Blanning, author of The Pursuit of Glory: Europe, 1648-1815
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