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The Grande Armee was created by Napoleon Bonaparte. In the end, to satisfy his personal ambitions, he destroyed the Grande Armee, and brought about the death of thousands of its soldiers, and yet more thousands of the soldiers who opposed it. The book has an amazing amount of detail, and the only shortcoming seemed to me that it required a better index.
The best book I have read discussing the nuts and bolts of Napoleon's armies; food, clothing, organization, tactics, weapons and the characteristics of the several branches of his forces. Elting is a gifted and witty writer. Moreover, he grasps the psychology of the men and the spirit of the times and conveys it brilliantly to the lay reader. He has a great gift for the pithy epigram when summing up the personalities of the men and officers. If you were merely a novice reader before this volume, you won't be afterwards. Elting will make you eager to get deep into the period.
If I could recommend one book as the starting point to what has been called the 'abyss of Napoleonic history', this would be it. This is my favorite book on the subject. The author covers it all. From the army at the time of the revolution, what it ate, how it was supplied, how it was cared for... as well as (of course) how it fought. Its all there. Plus it has the added benefit of reading lively and is very immersive.
Although it mainly cover the French experience during what was later called the "Napoleonic Era" the other nations get a chapter as well. All in all a very entertaining read.
This book could stand on its own as a work of literature. This is an exhaustive study of the minutiae of Napoleon's Grand Armee, and might easily have become a plodding reference work. The wit, irony, and, above all, the author's shear love of his subject matter make "Swords" good reading, fascinating even to people with no knowledge of Napoleonic-era warfare. Wish there were works this good on warfare in other periods.
Swords Around a Throne covers the organization and operations of one of the world's greatest armies. It is very detailed and fills a gap that many other Napoleonic era books leave open. The many elements of Napoleon's Grande Armee are thoroughly examined, including the cavalry, artillery, line infantry, light infantry, naval soldiers, engineers and the commanders. If you are looking for an in-depth account of the elements of the Grande Armee, this book is for you.