Wellington's Wars


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The Making of a Military Genius

Huw J. Davies

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A provocative reappraisal of Wellington's military career, his victory at Waterloo, and the source of his genius as a general

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, lives on in popular memory as the "Invincible General," loved by his men, admired by his peers, formidable to his opponents. This incisive book revises such a portrait, offering an accurate—and controversial—new analysis of Wellington's remarkable military career. Unlike his nemesis Napoleon, Wellington was by no means a man of innate military talent, Huw J. Davies argues. Instead, the key to Wellington's military success was an exceptionally keen understanding of the relationship between politics and war.

Drawing on extensive primary research, Davies discusses Wellington's military apprenticeship in India, where he learned through mistakes as well as successes how to plan campaigns, organize and use intelligence, and negotiate with allies. In India Wellington encountered the constant political machinations of indigenous powers, and it was there that he apprenticed in the crucial skill of balancing conflicting political priorities. In later campaigns and battles, including the Peninsular War and Waterloo, Wellington's genius for strategy, operations, and tactics emerged. For his success in the art of war, he came to rely on his art as a politician and tactician. This strikingly original book shows how Wellington made even unlikely victories possible—with a well-honed political brilliance that underpinned all of his military achievements.

Huw J. Davies is lecturer in defense studies, King's College, London, and the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Defence Academy, UK. He lives in Berkshire, UK.

“Davies offers a provocative and persuasive perspective on the duke of Wellington as a great captain.”—Publishers Weekly

"Huw J. Davies should be congratulated on producing such an original treatment of Wellington's development."—Jonathan Eaton, Military History

"Well written, with a strong human interest dimension. . . . Deserves a wide readership."—Gary Sheffield, BBC History Magazine

'Throws genuinely new light on the Duke's career, adn there are areas ... that I had never expected to see handled in such a commanding and insightful way.' - Richard Holmes, author of Wellington: The Iron Duke

‘This well-written, well-researched analysis of Wellington’s generalship will set alight a controversy that will burn like the thatched roof of Hougoumont farmhouse. Huw Davies’s critiques of Wellington’s military statesmanship are supported by profound archival diggings in India, Britain and the Iberian Peninsula, although they are presented within an overall acceptance of the Iron Duke’s genius. Let the great debate begin…’ - Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War

'One of the sharpest books to have been written on Wellington for many years: Huw Davies is to be congratulated for the manner in which he has found so many new things to say on such an old subject.' - Charles Edaile, author of Napoleon's Wars: An International History, 1803-1815

"Highly original, audaciously irreverent and yet admirably scrupulous."—Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman
ISBN: 9780300208658
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
336 pages, 5 11/16 x 8 7/8
13 b/w illus. + 12 maps
The Wandering Army

The Campaigns that Transformed the British Way of War

Huw J. Davies

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