Michael LeggiereMay 1, 2015
Scourge of Napoleon
University of Oklahoma Press 2014
I have really enjoyed Michael Leggiere's earlier work, including the excellent Napoleon and Berlin : The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (2002), like this work, part of the Campaigns and Commanders series at the University of Oklahoma Press. In Blucher: Scourge of Napoleon (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014), Leggiere rescues Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher from the shadow cast by Wellington (and Wellington's many and prolific admirers). It was Blucher, argues Leggiere, who continually bedeviled Napoleon after 1812 and who created the conditions for the Emperor's few but decisive defeats, including Leipzig (1813) and Waterloo (1815) - hence the subtitle. Partly because of the focus on Wellington, partly because of myth-making on the part of German nationalists and military leaders, Blucher is too often presented as a strategic imbecile, a mere hard-charging hussar, deserving of the label applied by his troops: "Marshal Forward." But Leggiere highlights Blucher'srestraint, his canny retreats, as well as his political savvy, to present a much more nuanced picture. Blucher: Scourge of Napoleon was the winner of the 2015 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award.