Friday, February 2, 2007

Moscow 1812 by Adam Zamoyski

I've read a few works about the 1812 campaign and I have to say that this book outdid them all. At times I kept catching myself having to go over a sentence, or paragraph or even a page just to make sure that what I read was really written there and then take a minute to think to myself what that would actually mean in the real world.

The suffering of both sides, soldiers and civilians, the agonies they were subjected to during Napoleon's march through Russia and out of it are incomprehensible, yet in this book clearly detailed and outlined. An officer not yet dead is already having his boots taken off by a soldier, friends become enemies when it comes to warmth and food, and men die together with their horses whom they cannot imagine leaving alone in the hell they have come to regard as life.

Aside from all the technical details of the campaign, which battles were fought where, what casualties were taken, I found it quite interesting to see that the commanders on the Soviet side were more lucky that I thought previously, lucky and simply afraid to face Napoleon (hence Kutuzov shadowing the Grand Armee while Napoleon moved from Moscow back the way he had come). It wasn't any great skill that had led to Napoleon's defeat, which makes this campaign the tragedy that it has come to be. This book is most definitely well worth the read, you'll read 100 pages a day and wish you could find the time for more.

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