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  • By bill.edwards
    Dec 7, 2010
    This is a remarkable book, written by Napoleon’s Chief of Staff, Alexandre Berthier, who was at Napoleon’s side at the battle of Austerlitz and who wrote out most of the Emperor’s orders to his Corps commanders. It was written in early 1806 while memories of the details of the battle were fresh. There is an amazing amount of detail in it that has not been transferred to other books written about the battle from secondary sources. The author quite naturally glorifies his emperor while describing tactical details. I cannot fault either Marshal Berthier or the translators of the work from French into English. However, I must find fault with the way the five accompanying maps are presented. These battle maps are presumably the ones referred to in the text by Berthier. They purport to show the terrain and infrastructure at the time of the battle. The drawing of the tactical units down to battalion level is quite accurate. Each map has a “sidebar” running along the left side with... More > information in French. Unfortunately, the size of the book precludes having maps that are legible. Upon consulting I was referred to the following website: that showed all five maps in much greater detail. There I found that the tactical units were drawn in color so that one could differentiate among French, Austrian, and Russian formations. I could also read the captions for each map as they appear on the maps themselves. I found that all except one were incorrect. I am confident that these mistakes are not the fault of the author, Berthier, or of the translators. Some unknown person must have placed the wrong caption with the map plate as detailed below. I had hoped to be able to contact persons responsible for the book in order to be able to purchase full-scale copies of the maps, but I have not yet been successful. Plate 1 caption in the book: Army in battle order the 2nd at daybreak. Plate (Planche) 1 on the actual map: Positions of the two Armies 1st December in the evening (au soir) The French description on the map corresponds to what is actually on the map plate 2 in the book. The caption in the book for plate 1 should read: Positions of the two Armies 1st December in the evening Plate 2 caption in the book: General attack on the whole line. The enemy's center is disrupted. The right and the left are contained. Plate (Planche) 2 on the actual map: Movements of the two Armies the 2nd in the early morning (au matin) The caption for plate 2 in the book should read: Army in battle order the 2nd at daybreak. This is a key point because plate 1 shows Soult's Corps west of the Goldbach stream where it should have been on December 1 in the evening and Plate 2 shows it east of the stream at daybreak. Berthier had ordered Soult's Corps to cross the stream under cover of darkness and be ready to attack from positions east of the stream not later than 7 am. Plate (Planche) 3 on the actual map: Movements of the two Armies from 9 am to noon (9 hre a Midi) Plate (Planche) 4 on the actual map: Movements from noon to 3 pm (Midi a 3) Plate 5 caption in the book: Position of the Army after the battle Plate (Planche) 5 on the actual map: End of the battle (Fin de la Battaille) This one is correct. I cannot tell what the captions for plates 3 and 4 should be because I cannot read the French in the sidebars. The captions should reflect a quick recapitulation of the information in the sidebars, but unfortunately they have not yet been translated. Actually, there are also long and presumably interesting descriptions if French of the maps in plates 2 and 5 as well. The inaccurate captions and the lack of translations for the sidebar information detract from the effectiveness of the book. It is obvious that the author did not provide the captions to the plates in the book. Before we get to plate 5, they all seem to be one plate off from where they should be. Please contact me at if you have a solution to this problem.< Less
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Product Details

December 6, 2005
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.44 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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