Wellington's Wars The Making of a Military Genius Huw J. Davies

Publication date:
15 May 2012
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 pp. b-w illus.
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Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington lives on in popular memory as the 'Invincible General', loved by his men, admired by his peers, formidable to his opponents. This incisive book revises such a portrait, offering an accurate - and controversial - new analysis of Wellington's remarkable military career. Unlike his adversary Napoleon, Wellington was by no means a man of innate military talent, Huw Davies argues. Instead, the key to Wellington's military success was an exceptionally keen understanding of the relationship between politics and war.

Drawing on extensive primary research, Davies discusses Wellington's military apprenticeship in India, where he learned through mistakes as well as successes how to plan campaigns, organize and use intelligence, and negotiate with allies. In India Wellington encountered the constant political machinations of indigenous powers, and it was there that he mastered the crucial skill of balancing conflicting political priorities. In later campaigns and battles, including the Peninsular War and Waterloo, Wellington's genius for strategy, operations, and tactics emerged. For his success in the art of war, he came to rely on his art as a politician and tactician.

This strikingly original book shows how Wellington made even unlikely victories possible - with a well-honed political brilliance that underpinned all of his military achievements.

Huw J. Davies is lecturer in defense studies, King's College, London, and the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Defence Academy, UK. He lives in Berkshire, UK.

"Wellington's Wars – The Making of a Military Genius... records his triumphs as 'The Invincible General', loved by his men and respected by his enemies. It tells of his formative years and military adventures in India, his successes in Spain and Portugal and his eventual victory over the Emperor Napoleon at Waterloo." Kent on Sunday

"Well written, with a strong human interest dimension… Wellington’s Wars deserves a wide readership. Davies is to be congratulated on writing a fine book."-Gary Sheffield, BBC History Magazine

"Highly original, audaciously irreverent and yet admirably scrupulous."-Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman