The wars between 1792 and 1815 saw the making of the modern world, with Britain and Russia the key powers to emerge triumphant from a long period of bitter conflict. In this innovative book, Jeremy Black focuses on the strategic contexts and strategies involved, explaining their significance both at the time and subsequently. Reinterpreting French Revolutionary and Napoleonic warfare, strategy, and their consequences, he argues that Napoleon’s failure owed much to his limitations as a strategist. Black uses this framework as a foundation to assess the nature of warfare, the character of strategy, and the eventual ascendance of Britain and Russia in this period. Rethinking the character of strategy, this is the first history to look holistically at the strategies of all the leading belligerents from a global perspective. It will be an essential read for military professionals, students, and history buffs alike.
Jeremy Black is professor emeritus of history at Exeter University. His recent books include The World at War and War and Its Causes.
2 Strategic Contexts
3 The Shock of the New? 1792–97
4 To Global Strategies, 1798–1803
5 Central Europe at Stake, 1804–9
6 New Wars, 1810–14
7 War without a Viable French Strategy? 1815
8 Strategic Assessment
9 Later Strategic Scrutiny
Selected Further Reading
It takes a scholar of Jeremy Black’s extraordinary width of knowledge to be able to place these titanic wars in their global contexts, drawing in places as far afield from their European cockpit as the United States, India, and the West Indies. Yet it also takes someone with his equally remarkable depth of knowledge to be able to drill down into the objectives, priorities, and capacities of all the major and minor players and the way these interacted with each other. No one will be able to write about the grand strategy of France and her opponents during this vital quarter of a century in history without reference to this book. Furthermore, the prose bears the reader along effortlessly.
A fresh take on the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, eschewing a grand, organizing narrative around dramatic, radical change or Napoleon’s alleged genius in favor of considering the nature, goals, course, and contemporary verdicts of the belligerents’ strategies and how these influenced subsequent strategic thinking.
Though a master of battlefield tactics, Napoleon was no strategist as Jeremy Black shows in this critical reassessment of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In a book that is notable for its crisp prose and clear judgment, Black argues that Napoleon failed to build diplomatic alliances or to understand the value of compromise, losing sight of strategic objectives in pursuit of success in a decisive battle. What possible strategy, he asks, can explain the invasion of Russia in 1812 or the last desperate campaigns of the Hundred Days?
Jeremy Black has done it again! At last Napoleonic scholars and enthusiasts have a succinct yet comprehensive book that both incorporates and synthesizes worldwide national policies and strategies during the period. This work is a must-have for the Napoleonist as well as those involved in security studies.
Black's History podcast on the Napoleonic War.
You can listen to it by clicking this link