Napier, Lieut.-Gen. Sir William.


John Murray, new ed., 1879. Vii + 469 pp., engraved frontis. Original full calf ; gilt borders ; raised bands ; gilt panels ; morocco title-piece & gilt; marbled ep’s., & matching edges; 18 x 12cm. Some typical but relatively minor rubbing to edges of covers ; very small split to top of front joint ; V.G. In this publication of 1879, the combats of Rorica, Vimiero, and Coruna, and the character of Sir John Moore, have been entirely recomposed. The other battles and sieges are, with more or less compression of details, transcripts from William Napier’s immortal History of the War in the Peninsula and the South of France, originally written to defend Moore’s reputation. This work is of vital importance because much of it is based on Napier’s own eye-witness experiences. In addition he received much help and encouragement from sources as diverse as Wellington and Soult. The multi-volume study published between 1828 and 1840, established his reputation as the greatest British military historian, but produced much controversy, notably with Beresford, and a furious war of pamphlets and in the press. Despite any failings, the importance of the work cannot be over-emphasised in terms of its influence at the time and since. Napier’s account of the attack of the fusilier brigade at Albuera, included in this volume, is arguably the most renowned piece of prose in military writing, for the style and spontaneity of the language, and the author’s obvious intense concern for his subject. This single volume of Napier’s study of English battles and sieges in the Peninsula is attractively bound in full contemporary calf with morocco edges and endpapers.

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