The Savage Storm: Britain on the Brink in the Age of Napoleon by David Andress - review by Charles Esdaile

Charles Esdaile

Against the Odds

The Savage Storm: Britain on the Brink in the Age of Napoleon


Little, Brown 428pp £25

Two hundred years ago Britain was engaged in a struggle that was until then the greatest and most climactic in its history. While the Royal Navy ceaselessly blockaded the coasts of Europe, shepherded the commerce of the world into British ports and helped ensure the reduction of enemy colony after enemy colony, the army was incurring terrible losses in a gruelling campaign in Spain and Portugal that ultimately cost it a minimum of forty thousand deaths, a figure that was perhaps as high as one in five of every soldier who took part. As for the enemy, it was the France of Napoleon Bonaparte, a military commander of immense ability who could tap the resources of the continent from the Pyrenees to Poland. 

In the end, of course, ‘Boney’ was sent packing, leaving Britain to look back on his downfall with the national pride exemplified by the Waterloo Roads and Lord Nelson pubs that to this day litter her urban geography. Yet almost to the very end so satisfying a denouement seemed most

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