Thursday, 28 July 2011

Summer Reading Material

Finally finished reading The Peninsular War Atlas. I have had it since Christmas, but have read it in two sessions. One in April and the second this month. It is what Jan and I call my “upstairs reading”, which is to say it is not bedtime reading and requires to be tackled on the naya with a glass of wine.

Most of my Napoleonic reference books come under this heading. In the summer months it is too hot to do anything too physical, so reading is a good way to pass an hour or so. I tackled the seven volumes of Oman’s A History of the Peninsular War in the same way a couple of years ago.

I must confess that I found Oman easier to read than Nick Lipscombe, which I found to be very hard going. The maps are excellent, but the text is pretty dry. To cover so much in so relatively few pages is no doubt necessary, but it does make the task of reading the whole volume quite a task. More than once I found myself dozing off as I tried to complete a page. But that may owe more to the sun and wine than to the writers prose style.

On the other hand the maps are the best I have found on the period, and its very useful that he covers the Spanish battles as well as Wellingtons. I found the contour lines to be particularly useful. I have walked most of Wellingtons battlefields, and it was interesting to compare the contour lines with the ground as I remember it.

I would think that a lot of people have bought this book. Even when new it was very good value for money, and certainly filled a gap in the mass of literature available on the Peninsular War. But I wonder how many of those actually read it cover to cover? I suspect very few.

Despite that I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for good maps on the period. A very welcome addition to my reference library, and one which I am sure I will return to, if only for the maps, in the years to come.

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