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Hardcover 1805: Austerlitz Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition Book

ISBN: 1853676446

ISBN13: 9781853676444

1805: Austerlitz Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition

The Battle of Austerlitz is almost universally regarded as the most impressive of Napoleon's many victories. The magnitude of the French achievement against a significantly larger army was unprecedented. In this insightful new study, Robert Goetz analyzes the planning of the opposing forces and details the course of the engagement hour by hour, describing the fierce see-saw battle around Sokolnitz, the epic struggle for the Pratzen Heights, the dramatic...


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Customer Reviews

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Thorough detailed account

This is a very thorough and detailed account of perhaps Napoleon's greatest victory (and certainly the one he was most proud of). The author briefly writes of how the battle came about by the failure of the treaty of Aimens and the formation of the third coalition against France. The author covers the the pre battle tactical and polictical maneuvering and the major personalities involved, with both sides attempting to put their forces into position to ultimately acheive decisive victory. However, it was Napoleon that was able read his Russian & Austrian opponents rashness and enticed them to draw off the bulk of their forces to attack his right flank and leaving the dominant Pratzen heights vulnerable to attack by the French. The battle itself is well covered off with the author detailing the movement of forces and blow by blow account of the battle. In fact the detail is such that it sometimes hard to take all in, but thankfully the author had the foresight to use maps to show the movement of forces at various places & times of battle so the reader can better visualise his narrative. Goetz also makes use of some first hand accounts that give weight to his own explaination of battle. The author suggests that was perhaps the French tactical prowess in the field (after months of training at Camp Bologne in anticipation of the invasion of Britain)that gave the French the edge. 'This was demonstrated repeatly by the effectiveness of their musketry, their cool maneuvering under fire, effective coordination of combined arms operations and larger larger scale maneuvers, and a superb discipline produced by high morale and complete confidence in their commanders'. The French command & control system also had flexibilty enabling commanders to adapt & maneuver their forces to changing situations to acheive ultimate mission objectives (that is very similar to the German Army in the WWII in its Blitzkreig). The Russian and Austrian forces typically seemed to be locked and awaiting orders from above losing valuable time & few officers used their initiative. Having said that the Russian & Austrian forces fought hard and bravely and at times were able to throw the French back. In the end it was Napoleon's careful planning, use of detailed information about the enemy and the ability to acheive numerical superiority at a given point that led to his decisive victory.

What Napoleonic history ought to be!

1805: Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition By Robert Goetz Greenhill Books 2005 368 pages, 20 maps, 40 illustrations, 8 tables, 4 appendices ISBN 1-85367-644-6 The Battle of Austerlitz was perhaps the greatest of all Napoleon's victories, and seems to have been the battle he was most proud of. Compared, though, with the mountain of books about Waterloo and Trafalgar, it has been rather poorly served. There was a history by Christopher Duffy, which was good, but was rather small, and is somewhat dated now. There was also an Osprey by Ian Castle, which faces the usual limitations of the Osprey format, and a larger but flawed volume by Scott Bowden. Robert Goetz has now stepped forward to provide another account of this dramatic affair. He begins where every good historian should begin; in the beginning, with the collapse of the Peace of Amiens, and gives good coverage of the formation of the Third Coalition. He gives descriptions of the leaders on both sides, and of the armies that they led, and then moves up through the Capitulation of Ulm. This takes up the first chapter of the book. Two more chapters are dedicated to the development of the campaign prior to the great battle, including short descriptions of several of the minor actions, and the fall of Vienna. Three chapters cover the battle, and a fourth the Austro-Russian withdrawal from the field. Finally, a chapter follows the aftermath of the battle and the submission of the Holy Roman Emperor to the new Emperor of France. I've met Mr. Goetz on the internet, and I've been impressed by the depth of his knowledge and his evenhandedness towards the various sides in the early Napoleonic wars, so I was eagerly looking forward to this book. I was not disappointed! It is extensively researched and well written. The descriptions of the various movements and combats are clear, and (while the sources are not as transparently revealed in the text as Muir's recent Salamanca) the author usually shows us why he thinks certain things about the battle, and not others. The maps are a real help (unlike so many books these days!) especially the tactical maps, which are about the best maps I've seen. Above and beyond all this, the outstanding quality of this book is the author's willingness to see both good and the bad of both sides. He understands the deficiencies of the Allied armies, but doesn't make them out to be cowards or buffoons. Likewise, he sees the excellent qualities of the French army and its leaders, but without idolatry; they make mistakes and have problems too, and Mr. Goetz shows the bad with the good. The only defect worth mentioning is that the strategic maps are not quite as good as the tactical maps. My goalpost is that all places mentioned in the text will be on the maps, somewhere, and there are a few places not so mentioned; however, they are still well above the average of maps in history books these days. I was very pleased with this book and I

the new standard

Well written by a first time amateur (in the best sense of the word) historian. Lucid description of the strategic and tactical context of the battle. Napoleon neither hustles to glory a la Connelly, nor envisions the perfect plan a la his buletins. Rather he's prepared to retreat, plans to turn the Allied right, then takes advantage of the Allie's empty center. Goetz is very concerned with precisely describing what actually happened. It becomes clear in the text or footnotes at many points in the narrative that Goetz has discovered a commonly repeated misconception. This was particularly apparent in the dramatic story of the clash between the Russian Cavalier Guard and the French Imperial Guard Grenadiers a Cheval. I cross referenced the 3 most accessible English texts. All 3 portray the Russian Guard as advancing on the center trying to restore the disasterous situation - Goetz points out the Tsar's brother was trying desparately to leave the field by remain in contact with the army HQ. All 3 have the Russian foot guard racing 300 yards up hill to attack, then cavalry clashes deciding the action - Goetz has the column's cavalry discovering and routing isolated French battalions, then battling the French guard cavalry to allow the foot to escape, an ultimately successful rearguard action. Night and day, and thoroughly convincing. A must buy for anyone interested in the battle.

Great detail on the classic battle

Robert Goetz, an international sales consultant and Napoleonic aficionado, delivers a meticulously researched account of Napoleon's stunning defeat of the Third Coalition in 1805: Austerlitz. Goetz has spent years researching the Russian army of this period and his narrative is the first that covers their perspective in detail, although the author is fair in his treatment of the French and Austrians. Compared to earlier works by Duffy and Bowden, this book by Goetz provides a higher level of detail - in fact, too much detail for any but the most die-hard Napoleonic enthusiasts. The author's main focus is to provide a very detailed analysis of the order of battle, unit strengths and casualties, but the actual battle narrative sometimes drowns under this veritable tsunami of data. 1805: Austerlitz offers an excellent reference book on the campaign and it clearly enlarges the information available on this battle, but it will appeal to a fairly limited audience. 1805: Austerlitz consists of eight chapters, three of which discuss the formation of the Third Coalition, the Ulm Campaign and the movement to Austerlitz. Goetz' chapter on the background to war is unusually good because he goes beyond the typical examination of the three main armies to discuss the forces and plans of all the coalition partners, including Sweden and Naples. Most books virtually ignore events in this war beyond Bavaria and Austria. Goetz is to be applauded for putting Austerlitz in proper strategic context. The description of the Ulm phase is good, although not much different from other accounts. Four chapters discuss the battle itself in great detail, covering the four main phases (Allied attack, French counterattack, French exploitation, Allied retreat). The author provides four very detailed appendices on Allied strength estimates, capsule biographies and order of battle. The author joins with other historians in criticizing the Allied plan of attack for Austerlitz and later concludes that, "defeat was likely from the outset." However, I think that bashing the Allied plan is a straw man argument at best, since it does not appear that the Allies had a real battle plan. As Goetz notes, Weyrother's instructions for battle were based on guesswork and providing no specific guidance for actions on contact or how to utilize the Allied artillery superiority. Instead, the Allied columns marched off into the fog, hoping for the best. That is not a plan. Goetz does cover the battle in minute-by-minute fashion and the 20 excellent maps make it easy for the reader to follow individual actions. Goetz also provides a table on Allied artillery losses - there is a wealth of data in these pages. The author is also to be applauded for his balance in the book; although his main interest lies with the Russian forces, Goetz acknowledges the "near flawless" French tactical performance. Goetz attributes the French victory to better leadership, better training, more combat experi

Definitely a book for Napoleonic fans - more technical in battle details

With nearly 400 pages and 20 maps this is definitely a book written specifically for afficianados of Napoleonic Wars and at times I found the level of detail slowing me down. But this book, (in 8 chapters) covers predominantly what has become known as teh battle of 3 emperors - Austerlitz where Napoleon, outnumbered, crushed the European opposition setting himself as teh supreme force in Europe. This is almost universally regarded as the most impressive of Napoleon's many victories and so is well worth studying in detail. It also shows his impressive tactics, (which were later scornfully brushed off by Wellington, yet proved so effective against forces many times the size of his own). of the It is difficult to emphasise now just what the French victory against a larger army meant, but Goetz does do a fine job of identifying the reasons it happened Goetz analyzes breaks the battle down hour by hour - and also includes, the planning, the vicious fight for Sokolnitz as well as those around the Pratzen Heights, Lannes and Bagration There are 8 chapters - four are about Austerlitz. There are two which describe the build up and planning and the final two cover the rest of the campaign. There is a vital overview(for me anyway being a novice on Napoleon's battles outside the Peninsular) in the start with a description of armies, etc. I found it handy to have a secondary source beside me as a reference for some of the details. Given that I am not an expert to any degree on Napoleonic conflict outside the Peninsular I cannot review this book for its strengths as a reference as I have little to compare it with. I did find it a good, if at times taxing read. It is detailed but I think had I a stronger interest in Austerlitz it might have flowed better. I did feel my knowledge of teh campaign was strongly enhanced and I found this book a good read overall.
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