Blücher: Scourge of Napoleon

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University of Oklahoma Press, Jan 29, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 568 pages

One of the most colorful characters in the Napoleonic pantheon, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819) is best known as the Prussian general who, along with the Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Throughout his long career, Blücher distinguished himself as a bold commander, but his actions at times appeared erratic and reckless. This magnificent biography by Michael V. Leggiere, an award-winning historian of the Napoleonic Wars, is the first scholarly book in English to explore Blücher’s life and military career—and his impact on Napoleon.

Drawing on exhaustive research in European archives, Leggiere eschews the melodrama of earlier biographies and offers instead a richly nuanced portrait of a talented leader who, contrary to popular perception, had a strong grasp of military strategy. Nicknamed “Marshal Forward” by his soldiers, he in fact retreated more often than he attacked. Focusing on the campaigns of 1813, 1814, and 1815, Leggiere evaluates the full effects of Blücher’s operations on his archenemy.

In addition to providing military analysis, Leggiere draws extensively from Blücher’s own writings to reveal the man behind the legend. Though tough as nails on the outside, Blücher was a loving family man who deplored the casualties of war. This meticulously written biography, enhanced by detailed maps and other illustrations, fills a large gap in our understanding of a complex man who, for all his flaws and eccentricities, is justly credited with releasing Europe from the yoke of Napoleon’s tyranny.

 

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Contents

Chapter 1 Prussia
3
Chapter 2 The Red King
36
Chapter 3 False Sense of Security
71
Chapter 4 The Collapse
83
Chapter 5 The Agony of Defeat
113
Chapter 6 The Fifth Coalition
132
Chapter 7 Hope and Despair
154
Chapter 8 Scapegoat
173
Chapter 13 Leipzig
288
Chapter 14 France
318
Chapter 15 Paris
338
Chapter 16 The Spoils of Victory
366
Chapter 17 Ligny
388
Chapter 18 Auerstedt Avenged
405
Assessment
430
Notes
453

Chapter 9 The Sixth Coalition
191
Chapter 10 The Spring Campaign
232
Chapter 11 The Armistice
253
Chapter 12 Silesia
267

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About the author (2014)

Michael V. Leggiere is Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, Military History Center, University of North Texas, and author of Napoleon & Berlin: The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (OU Press, 2002), and The Fall of Napoleon, Vol. I: The Allied Invasion of France, 1813-181 (Cambridge, 2007).

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