Saul David

Our Finest Hour?

Went the Day Well? Witnessing Waterloo

By

William Collins 366p £20 order from our bookshop

Waterloo: Great Battle Series

By

Oxford University Press 240pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Now that the initial deluge of books commemorating the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo has slowed to a trickle, it is refreshing to see the publication of two histories that observe 18 June 1815 from a much broader cultural perspective.

David Crane has form with this type of approach. His Empires of the Dead, an account of the creation of the War Graves Commission, was described by one reviewer as the ‘most original, shortest and best written of the year’s tsunami of books on the impact of the Great War’ and was deservedly shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He tries to do something similar with Went the Day Well?, shifting the narrative from the battlefield to Britain and back again and working in a huge cast of disparate characters in contrasting settings. His declared intention is to explore ‘the intersection of the private and public spheres’ and the ‘ways in which individuals are touched by remote events, and how much – or how little – of what we usually think of as mainstream history actually impinged on the lives of ordinary men and women who witnessed Waterloo’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,