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The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo
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Basic Books 2015
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In 1815, the deposed emperor Napoleon returned to France and threatened the already devastated and exhausted continent with yet another war. Near the small Belgian municipality of Waterloo, two large, hastily mobilized armies faced each other to decide the future of Europe—Napoleon's forces on one side, and the Duke of Wellington on the other.With so much at stake, neither commander could have predicted that the battle would be decided by the Second Light Battalion, King's German Legion, which was given the deceptively simple task of defending the Haye Sainte farmhouse, a crucial crossroads on the way to Brussels. In The Longest Afternoon, Brendan Simms recounts how these 400-odd riflemen beat back wave after wave of French infantry until finally forced to withdraw, but only after holding up Napoleon for so long that he lost the overall contest. Their actions alone decided the most influential battle in European history. Drawing on previously untapped eye-witness reports for accurate and vivid details of the course of the battle, Simms captures the grand choreography and pervasive chaos of Waterloo: the advances and retreats, the death and the maiming, the heroism and the cowardice. He describes the gallant fighting spirit of the French infantrymen, who clambered over the bodies of their fallen comrades as they assaulted the heavily fortified farmhouse—and whose bravery was only surpassed by that of their opponents in the Second Light Battalion. Motivated by opposition to Napoleonic tyranny, dynastic loyalty to the King of England, German patriotism, regimental camaraderie, personal bonds of friendship, and professional ethos, the battalion suffered terrible casualties and fought tirelessly for many long hours, but refused to capitulate or retreat until the evening, by which time the Prussians had arrived on the battlefield in large numbers.In reorienting Waterloo around the Haye Sainte farmhouse, Simms gives us a riveting new account of the famous battle—an account that reveals, among other things, that Napoleon came much closer than is commonly thought to winning it. A heroic tale of 400 soldiers who changed the course of history, The Longest Afternoon will become an instant classic of military history.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/10/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780465039944
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APA Citation (style guide)

Brendan Simms. (2015). The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. Basic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Brendan Simms. 2015. The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. Basic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Brendan Simms, The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. Basic Books, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Brendan Simms. The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. Basic Books, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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shortDescription

In 1815, the deposed emperor Napoleon returned to France and threatened the already devastated and exhausted continent with yet another war. Near the small Belgian municipality of Waterloo, two large, hastily mobilized armies faced each other to decide the future of Europe—Napoleon's forces on one side, and the Duke of Wellington on the other.
With so much at stake, neither commander could have predicted that the battle would be decided by the Second Light Battalion, King's German Legion, which was given the deceptively simple task of defending the Haye Sainte farmhouse, a crucial crossroads on the way to Brussels. In The Longest Afternoon, Brendan Simms recounts how these 400-odd riflemen beat back wave after wave of French infantry until finally forced to withdraw, but only after holding up Napoleon for so long that he lost the overall contest. Their actions alone decided the most influential battle in European history. Drawing on previously untapped...

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title
The Longest Afternoon
fullDescription

In 1815, the deposed emperor Napoleon returned to France and threatened the already devastated and exhausted continent with yet another war. Near the small Belgian municipality of Waterloo, two large, hastily mobilized armies faced each other to decide the future of Europe—Napoleon's forces on one side, and the Duke of Wellington on the other.
With so much at stake, neither commander could have predicted that the battle would be decided by the Second Light Battalion, King's German Legion, which was given the deceptively simple task of defending the Haye Sainte farmhouse, a crucial crossroads on the way to Brussels. In The Longest Afternoon, Brendan Simms recounts how these 400-odd riflemen beat back wave after wave of French infantry until finally forced to withdraw, but only after holding up Napoleon for so long that he lost the overall contest. Their actions alone decided the most influential battle in European history. Drawing on previously untapped eye-witness reports for accurate and vivid details of the course of the battle, Simms captures the grand choreography and pervasive chaos of Waterloo: the advances and retreats, the death and the maiming, the heroism and the cowardice. He describes the gallant fighting spirit of the French infantrymen, who clambered over the bodies of their fallen comrades as they assaulted the heavily fortified farmhouse—and whose bravery was only surpassed by that of their opponents in the Second Light Battalion. Motivated by opposition to Napoleonic tyranny, dynastic loyalty to the King of England, German patriotism, regimental camaraderie, personal bonds of friendship, and professional ethos, the battalion suffered terrible casualties and fought tirelessly for many long hours, but refused to capitulate or retreat until the evening, by which time the Prussians had arrived on the battlefield in large numbers.
In reorienting Waterloo around the Haye Sainte farmhouse, Simms gives us a riveting new account of the famous battle—an account that reveals, among other things, that Napoleon came much closer than is commonly thought to winning it. A heroic tale of 400 soldiers who changed the course of history, The Longest Afternoon will become an instant classic of military history.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 16, 2015
        For history readers who appreciate grainy, detailed battle accounts, this fine book concerns the carnage, heroism, and occasional stupidity that occurred around a single Belgian farmhouse at the center of the battlefield at Waterloo during a few hours in 1815. Normally, images of Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington are conjured when thinking of that conflict—when the deposed French emperor tried to retake his imperial throne after a triumphal return from Elba. But as usual, these historical giants had much less to do with the battlefield than their soldiers, many of whom on the British side hailed from the German kingdom of Hanover. With the aid of astonishingly-preserved and vivid contemporary accounts, Simms (Europe), of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, brings these soldiers' actions brilliantly alive. From battlefield records two centuries old, he's extracted moving scenes of their courage, bravery, and initiative. In the end, there's no question that the shape and history of 19th-century Europe owes a debt to these 400-odd warriors, who withstood repeated waves of French forces and prevented Napoleon's breakthrough. It's a remarkably detailed book, which is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Nevertheless, Simms shows that without these troops, Great Britain and the German states would have been deeply imperiled.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 1, 2014
        A slim but gripping account of the bloody, heroic defense of La Haye Sainte, a farmhouse that Napoleon had to capture to reach the Duke of Wellington's army.The massive stone building survives intact; not so its defenders, a battle-tested unit of the British army. Simms (History of International Relations/Peterhouse Coll., Univ. of Oxford; Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present, 2013, etc.) begins in 1803 when Napoleon annexed the German principality of Hanover and dissolved its army. Following these events, many soldiers fled to Britain, where they and other expatriates were numerous enough to form the King's German Legion, which fought in Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain before its supreme test in Belgium on June 18, 1815. As the author writes, they "were motivated by a combination of ideological opposition to Napoleonic tyranny, dynastic loyalty to the King of England, German patriotism, regimental camaraderie, personal bonds of friendship and professional ethos." The Duke of Wellington placed most of his army behind a ridge and ordered a battalion of the legion 400 meters ahead to occupy the house, but he sent the legion's engineers elsewhere, making extensive fortification impossible. Worse, he made no provisions for resupplying ammunition beyond the standard issue of 60 rounds. At 1 p.m., the French attacked, surrounding the house. Beaten back, they attacked again and again, setting it on fire but not capturing it until after 6 p.m., when the surviving defenders retreated for lack of ammunition. This allowed Napoleon to launch the Imperial Guards at Wellington's lines, which were beaten back as the Prussian army arrived to turn it into a rout. Since literacy was common even among enlisted men, Simms takes advantage of abundant letters and memoirs to deliver an engrossing, often gruesome nuts-and-bolts description of that afternoon.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from January 1, 2015

        There are times when a relatively small number of men can make a difference. Napoleon's armies routed Prussian forces before the critical battle of Waterloo (1815) but Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher--in support of British solider Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington--refused to concede. Blucher rallied his troops and guided them back to battle. His return was the decisive moment in the final defeat of the French army. Before Blucher's reappearance though, French pressure on the line of the Duke of Wellington threatened to overwhelm the Allies. That is, until the battle for farmhouse-compound La Haye Sainte where, in the middle of the battle line, 400 Hanoverians fended off repeated attacks from French troops for five hours, buying Blucher enough time to reengage and attack. It can be easy to forget that history started as telling stories and that good stories explain things, imposing order on and assigning significance to the chaos of contingent events. Simms (history, Cambridge Univ.; Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present) has done an admirable job of showing that stories do still count. VERDICT This thoroughly engrossing account will thrill all history lovers.--David Keymer, Modesto, CA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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