Sunday, November 01, 2015

"Marlborough's Other Army" - a review..

Taken me a while but I got there in the end.. 

So first things first, the time it took me to read the book is not indicative of any inherent defect in the book, just that the nature of the book (in my view) is not conducive to a straight reading...  this is first and foremost an entire book of facts and numbers..  it's basically a wargamers/military historian's delight..  it reminded me of the "Boys Book of Knowledge" from when I was a youngster, and similarly it's not a book to just pick up and read, it's a book to refer to when you need a specific fact..

So what do you get??

Well, first off you get a thumbnail history of the war in Spain and Portugal between the years 1702 and 1712 (including Gibraltar and the Balearic islands), the campaigns/strategies of the year and any significant battles that occurred in that year.. one chapter per year...  each chapter gives detail on the numbers involved for each army/protagonist.. if you wanted to fight any aspect of the campaign or battle there's everything you could possibly need..

Second, what you also get is a fairly detailed breakdown of each of the constituent parts of the Allied armies of the time - one chapter for each divided into foot, horse and artillery.. The author examines each of the British, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Carolean Spanish (basically those Spanish in support of the Allied cause as opposed to the Spanish in support of the Bourbon/French cause), the armies of the Palatine, and lastly the Austrian/Imperial contingent..  in each chapter he gives an overall view of the tactics of each army - how the infantry fought (eg, firing method, platoon or volley etc.) how the cavalry fought (advance at the trot or gallop, fire or not etc.) and types of artillery...  he also gives detail on numbers and organisation of regiment/battalion/squadron where known..  a goldmine, but last of all he gives uniform details for the relevant army.. There's clearly an amount of theorisation, but it's clearly stated where this is the case, and why, and his reasoning..

Last there is a good bibliography/reading list...

Do I recommend it?? Yes, without a doubt..  Is it an easy, pick up and read?? No... this is a reference in the classic sense...  My copy is now full of post it's, and underlines, and written comments/annotations...  I'll not be getting rid of it! 

Steve the Wargamer rates it as a 9 out of 10.. if you have an interest in the Wars of the Spanish Succession it's a must have (in my view)..

10 comments:

  1. Think I'll check that one out

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    1. Neil - if you have an interest in early tricorn era military history - I'd say you could do a lot worse.. :o)

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  2. Christmas list starts here:)

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  3. This is a very good book, that explains the problems that faced the allies in the peninsula.
    A good value reference book.

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    1. Robbie - agreed... the Allies desperately needed a Marlborough/Eisenhower type of figure in this theatre but they didn't get one and as a result seemed to spend most of their time bickering with each other... Marlborough was not just a consummate tactician/strategist, he was also an outstanding diplomat..

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  4. I ordered my copy last week, and eagerly awaiting my book.
    It was on sale at the Naval & Military Press.
    They might still have e few copies for those interested.

    Thanks for the review!

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    1. Cheers Wim - enjoy it when you get it...

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  5. I'd agree that it is not a readable book. But it is a good reference source. Better than Faulkner in that respect for me.

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    1. Paul - agreed - Faulkner is more readable and given the choice I'd go for him, but there were a lot of hard facts in the book which makes it the "go to" if you were campaign planning... the book is similar in style to the two Charles Grant volumes on the armies of the time - chock full of facts..

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