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The Peninsular War, by Charles Esdaile

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Simon

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« on: January 12, 2008, 11:04 AM »
Nick, and anyone else interested;

The Peninsular War, by Charles Esdaile (now available in the InNat Bookshop)

I'm grinding my teeth because I couldn't resist this book at Gatwick bookshop last year, unbeknownst to me it would subsequently be on a special offer above!

Due to my terrible habit of reading about two dozen books at a time I've only got about a quarter of the way into this gripping tale, i.e. as far as October 1808, Wellington, or rather Wellesley as he was then, has recaptured Lisbon but is back in London seeking to clarify his command.  Napoleon has just arrived in the Basque Country with the Grande Armée, still unaware that he is in real trouble. And the Spanish armies? Well . . .

By a sheer fluke I began to read another of my troves from Hay-on-Wye, Brenan's classic, The Spanish Labyrinth, much to my shame I've never read this yet, not for the lack of trying but it's been out of print/stock for years (it's now just re-issued and likewise available from IbNat). It's also been an odd occurrence that I should be reading the two simultaneously; the Esdaile paperback edition appears in very fine print and for me this means reading in daylight. As a result I've been reading Esdaile by day and Brenan (1971 reissue, i.e. printed by an actual machine, nice and bold, black ink, splendid!) at night.

The upshot of this is, as Esdaile goes into the politics behind the war as much as the gunpowder stuff, as does Brenan, reading the two stories together has given rise to a strong sense of déjà vu and begs the question, 'Does anything ever change?'

Anyway, I'd definitely recommend Esdaile's book. It's highly readable and doesn't dwell overmuch on the military history side of the war, no lists of medals and battle honours, but some very necessary description on the reality on the ground; there really was so much down to chance in warfare, especially with logistical and communications problems leading to unexpected disasters or victories that I think in our day and age we're apt to forget.

It's also apt that this is the bi-centennial of the War of Independence (as it's known in Spain) and there are already a lot of events happening, so it's a good piece of 'contemporary' Spanish history for foreigners living here to know about.

Regs

Simon

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 00:00 AM »
Greetings Simon,
At the risk of incurring the wrath of You-Know-Who  :angel: , will reply to you on this thread rather than starting a dedicated thread for the Labyrinth book, thread which will no doubt appear in time.

Re. your
Quote
...Brenan's classic, The Spanish Labyrinth, much to my shame I've never read this yet, not for the lack of trying but it's been out of print/stock for years (it's now just re-issued and likewise available from IbNat). It's also been an odd occurrence that I should be reading the two simultaneously;...
, needless to say, as a true Darwinist, Technopat doesn't believe in coincidences, so your term "odd occurrence" fits the bill perfickly, as my first iberianatureforumbookshop order included "Brenan's classic, The Spanish Labyrinth, [which] much to my shame I've never read [this yet], not for the lack of trying but ..."

I don't promise to have read it by the Summit (something to discuss along the Vía Verde, or as seems increasingly likely, over a couple of bottles of plonk - with the graceful tolerance of Sue and Clive - seated round the kitchen table ... because of the torrential rains, I hasten to add, for which Grazalema is so famous).

I too always have several books on the go at the same time, but as I foresee Decidme Cómo es un Árbol to be very heavy reading, when I've finished As I walked out ..., shall put all others on hold.

Regs.,
Technopat

PS.
I can't help thinking that Brenan (or, more likely, the publishers) named his book to cash in on after Borkenau's Spanish Cockpit.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2008, 00:38 AM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Simon

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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2008, 06:29 AM »
I put As I Waled Out . . . on hold in about 1973 and didn't pick it up again for nearly thirty years! if oly I had I too might have walked out . . .!

Si