1812 – The March on Moscow
By Paul Britten Austin
Frontline Books (www.frontline-books.com)
RRP GBP £15.99
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This outstanding volume is really the first of a three part consideration of Napoleon and his disastrous Russian campaign. Ideally the volumes should be acquired and read together as they are in chronological series (another volume is also reviewed – see 1812 Napoleon in Moscow).
No general or commander-in-chiefs other than Napoleon and Adolf Hitler have attempted to march on Moscow. Throughout the history of warfare the invasion of Russia from the west has always been known to be a very high risk strategy and likely to be a complete failure.
Both Napoleon and Hitler found that invading Russia sealed their own fates. More than 300,000 men accompanied Napoleon on that eventful day in the mid-summer of 1812. They had no concept of the horrors that they were about to face and many of them never returned.
Napoleon’s troops would be lured all the way to Moscow and they did not have the decisive battle that he required. By the time they saw the outskirts of the city they had lost a third of their men. This was one of the biggest disasters in the history of warfare and only ever repeated over a hundred years later during the Second World War.
The author has produced an outstanding volume that is the fruits of twenty years of research. He skilfully blends period memoirs and diaries from in excess of 100 eyewitnesses. All of them were involved in this campaign and participated in the “Grand Armee’s” doomed march on Moscow. The results of this makes the reader feel immersed in events as a collective witness and the book sucks the reader in so that he seems personally involved.
This unique authentic account sees the reader experience the campaign through the eyes of those directly involved. It is a marvellously entertaining account and easily worth the price. For those interested in the 1812 Moscow campaign these volumes are indispensable.