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SIR JOHN FORTESCUE was the foremost military historian of his day. Librarian at Windsor Castle from 1905 to 1926, he was the author of many notable books, including his famous History of the British Army. Among these, his life of Wellington, described by the Spectator as ‘deserving to rank with Southey’s Nelson as a national classic’, has always been held in special regard. Many biographies of Wellington have been written both before and since, but none show so clearly and concisely how Wellington became the great leader of soldiers that he undoubtedly was.
Wellington’s military career can be divided roughly into three main phases. First, his command in India and his brilliant conduct of the Mahratta campaign; then the long war of attrition in the Iberian peninsular; and finally the campaign leading to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. Sir John gives the reader what The Times Literary Supplement called ‘a hilltop view’ of those years, ‘pointing out the great essential features of the landscape . . . and doing it all so clearly that we know the country better and more intimately than we have ever done before.’
This edition makes available again a book that is of interest both to students of military history and to the general reader who wishes to follow the campaigns of a military commander, who was a great patriot and English gentleman.