The unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Saul David's comprehensive history, All the King's Men: The British Soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo, read by the actor Sean Barrett. "The British soldier," wrote a Prussian officer who served with Wellington, "is vigorous, well fed, by nature highly brave and intrepid, trained to the most vigorous discipline, and admirably well-armed...
These circumstances explain how this army ... has never yet been defeated in the field." From the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 to the Downfall of Napoleon in 1815, Britain won a series of major wars against France that enabled her to lay the foundations of a global empire. By Waterloo, she was the paramount maritime and industrial power in the world, and would remain so for much of the nineteenth century.
This is the story of that extraordinary century and a half of martial success and the people who made it possible: the soldier-kings William III and the first two Georges; the generals Marlborough, Wolfe, Moore and Wellington; and the ordinary British redcoats who - despite harsh service conditions that included low pay, poor housing, inadequate food and brutal discipline - rarely let their commanders down in battles as far afield as Blenheim, Plassey, Quebec and Waterloo.
©2012 Saul David (P)2012 Penguin Books Ltd
"Filled with swashbuckling derring-do, the reek of blood and gunpowder, combined with shrewd analysis of power, war and psychology." (Simon Sebag Montefiore)
"Those wishing to immerse themselves in this golden age of British military success will relish David's fine piece of history." (Sunday Times)
"At a time when the Army is facing cutbacks while being expected to fight distant, unpopular wars on a shoestring, David's book could not be more topical." (Nigel Jones, Sunday Telegraph)
"A big meaty, satisfying and thought-provoking book, a real achievement." (Patrick Bishop)
Amateur history buff
This book purports to be a study of the British Army from the Restoration to Waterloo. In fact, its much more the summary of the British Army's major wars, campaigns and actions as told through 4 of its leading commanders than about the army itself. Certainly there are sections which cover the common soldier's life and lot, and the system for the purchase of commissions, but I expected and would have preferred a more thorough analysis of the army itself - how it was formed, led, fed, moved, and drilled.
The book does provide a great overview from the point of view of wars and campaigns, but overall it felt like it tried to cover too much ground in too little time.
Like most audio books, I think that this should be listened to at double speed, otherwise the narration is simply too slow.
No, absolutely not.
This highly detailed and super interesting book exceeded my expectations on every single level.The narrator was excellant,the facts well researched ,and the story told in a very accessable way.It is quite simply one of the best military/social histories I have listened too-Ive listened to alot as well-BUY THIS BOOK NOW
Classics, history, historical fiction, marketing, Napoleonic stuff and of course 'Boys own Adventure'. This is my bent. Occasional self help as well.
Well studied and covers much detail. Does focus on the leaders such as Marlborough and Wellington and ends at Waterloo which is where is said it would but would of been nice to go through the 19th Century. Perhaps SAul David could write
part-two'. Never the less you can read Richard Holmes 'Redcoat' to cover most of that - another excellent book.
What I really liked about this book was the British side of the 'War of Independence'. Most books seem to cover the US side of things but it is nice to see another perspective. I now plan to listen to Bernard Cornwalls 'The Fort' which will cover John Burgoyne's 'Saratoga campaign', actually I guessing on that one, but it sounds close. It is fictional, but I think it will give a rather accurate idea of the campaign. I think 'Jack Absolute' novel covers this campaign as well.
Anyway, a good study, well put together and nicely finished. If you are into studying military history, soldiers, 18th & 19th century especially British, then this is a must. I am so happy I listen to this book as Sean Barett has done an excellent job presenting it and Saul David in writing it.
"The British general from the bits Saul David likes"
This is a highly recommended book if you want to learn about the British Army between the Restoration and Waterloo. for covering such a broad topic David goes into great detail more then on might expect making particular studies of the early years of the regular army, Duke of Marlborough, James Wolfe, The American War of Independence, and the Duke of Wellington.
David also clearly tries his hardest to use as many primary sources as possible, especially when such a general history could probably get away only one or two sources per era.
This book is informative and highly recommended, but I suggest it is more meant for people who are not looking an in depth study of every event in the century and a half covered.
Saul David makes a few little mistakes here and there, nothing major but if you know them they are particularly jarring (for example referring to a French rifle bullet at Waterloo).
This is a personal issue but David seems pretty determined to 'prove' Marlborough was a superior commander to Wellington, as such the former has his faults glossed over while Wellington gets pulled over the coals and is accused of being over cautious or to much of a risk taker depending on the battle.
The level of detail is sporadic for example when talking about the American war of independence every campaign until Saratoga gets decent detail and then David declares that's the point the war was lost and fighting continued for a few years after, with almost no further information.
The last problem is the use of the word 'major' to make generalisations, winning every major battle or war is repeated constantly and makes much of the book come off as just the parts of history that Saul David likes.
Sean Barrett's narration is good if a little monotonous but really comes alive when he adopts an accent for primary sources so I really can't complain, and on its own I would have given narration 4 stars but the editing drags it down to three. Words that had to be re recorded for whatever reason are jammed into sentences and it really makes the listening experience jarring because Barrett sounds like he is reading the reinserted word as a quote, for the sake of a clearer production they should have asked Barrett to re read the entire sentence that then just part of it.
This would never be a film but it did make me want to watch Waterloo again
Despite my nit picks this is still a good book.
"Well rounded and interesting."
Although there are slightly confusing sections (especially when lots of people have the same name) this book gives a great overall picture. It jumps around different campaigns across the world but sticks around long enough for you to get a good feel for what the conflicts are really about. The author seems to give a fair analysis and the voice acting is very good. Would recommend if you're interested in this kind of thing.
"In depth detailed history, well put together"
For a detailed dry subject he delivered life and sole to the work, with a comftable rhythm and pass.
For such a detailed history, this work covers so much information, historical context and back round either social or political leading to the fields the men of the army found them selves standing on. A very accomplished work with out being to dry and drawn as some historical factual books can be.
"Really splendid narrative history."
This is a thorough and accessible history of the rise of the British redcoat. Using the careers of Marlborough, Wolfe and Wellington as its focal points, it touches all the high points from the Seven Years War to Waterloo, but does not shy away from failures like the American War of Independence or Cumberland's losses in the Low Countries. Elegantly written in simple, uncluttered prose, this is beautifully read by Sean Barrett, whose masterly phrasing, tone and pacing cannot be too highly praised. Just a cracking listen.
"Very well researched and very well read"
A very enjoyable book covering the rise of the British Redcoat in the period of the Seven Years War, the poor leadership during the American Revolution, and triumphant return during the Napoleonic wars.
"A great overview of the early British army"
Saul David provides an excellent overview of the development of the British Army from Charles II to the defeat of Napoleon inter weaving the broad picture of the major campaigns and development of army organisation with accounts from some of the soldiers themselves. I found this reportage element engaging and added an extra dimension to a study that could have become quite dry otherwise. David's writing style is effective and Barrett's narration provide gravitis. I have given it 4 stars rather than 5 as I would have liked a little but more of the soldier's eye view and on occasion I did feel that Barrett's delivery did begin to waiver a little becoming a little on the slow side, although this might be me being unfair as I listened to it in large chunks. On the whole an excellent piece of work very well read.
A greatest hits of the British army; The war of the Spanish Succession, the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic wars. The only downer is the American War of Independence, although that is probably the best part of the book.
There are good clear accounts of the war, and the major battles. The main commanders are described and evaluated. There is some description of the changing tactics, and the lives of the soldiers, and a few first hand accounts are weaved into the narrative. Enjoyable, but not essential.
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