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Sharpe's Waterloo (Richard Sharpe (chronological order) #20)

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,780 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
In this, the culmination of Richard Sharpes long and arduous career, Bernard Cornwell brings to life all the horrorand all the exhilarationof one of the greatest military triumphs of all time.
Audio CD, 11 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1990)
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I appreciated this as a window on the famous 1815 battle, with Sharpe a Zellig-like figure at key turning points. However, I missed Sharpe’s personal story as the main focus of the narrative rather than getting a sense of him being used as a tool to illustrate historical events.

If you have read any of the Sharpe series on the British army during the Napoleanic Wars, you will want to read this out for a sense of completion, with this being the penultimate volume. He still thinks of himself as a
Huw Rhys
Aug 17, 2011 Huw Rhys rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, my prejudices - I've been a huge fan of the TV versions of the Sharpe books; I've been an even bigger fan of the Napoleonic Wars, and Waterloo in particular - I've probably read more on and around the subject than is healthy for anyone.

Although I've never actually read a Bernard Cornwell novel before, I was really looking forward, therefore, to reading his account of Richard Sharpe's contribution to the Battle of Waterloo.

All the ingredients for a literary disaster therefore - I had set
Larry Deaton
Mar 17, 2016 Larry Deaton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Waterloo: The True Story of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles This is the actual book that I read and reviewed here. What is shown in the header is Cornwell's 20th Sharpe novel ... This is the first non-fiction book by Bernard Cornwell, but he brings all the talent that he has honed over the years in writing his many historical novels to retelling the story of Waterloo. It's worth mentioning up front that those who have read a lot of military history may be put off by the repetitiveness ...more
I'd advise not reading the author's note at the end of the book, because it tips the novel's John Bull-ishness right over the edge into jingoism. The body of the book is hardly great literature, but it's enjoyable--it could have been edited down, but as a dubiously-historical recounting of Waterloo from the first skirmishes at Quatre Bras to the defeat of the Imperial Guard, it rollicks along amiably enough. Its biggest flaw, however, is that Sharpe just doesn't have a much of a purpose. His mov ...more
I'd suspected that SHARPE'S WATERLOO, the penultimate Sharpe adventure and the culmination of his adventures in the Napoleonic War, could be nothing but a triumph. After all, it's a novel dedicated to one of the biggest, most-remembered battles in all of history, so how could Cornwell get it wrong? He built to it for a decade, honing his craft with more minor (but no less gripping) stories before finally sitting down to tackle it.

Needless to say, I loved everything about this story. It's a massi
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No. 20 in the Richard Sharpe series. [return][return]This, the culmination of the series to which all previous installments have pointed, is without question Cornwell s best book. While Sharpe s personal life does enter into it, at least 3/4 of the book if not more is devoted to the complex Battle of Waterloo which took place from Thursday, June 15 with Napoleon s invasion of the Netherlands to the final, epic, and hair-raising battle near the village of Waterloo on Sunday, June 18. Cornwell doe ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Moira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All right, I'll confess it - I'm a Richard Sharpe addict. I have just started the last of the 21 novels (read in historically chronological order, not the order written) and I will miss his adventures once I'm done. One of the factors in my appreciation of the series is the image of Sean Bean's Sharpe portrayal from the movies (very appealing!), but the other is the breathtaking depiction of battle in all its glorious valor, unbelievable horror and intimate detail amid a historical setting. I ca ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Hazel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Richard Sharpe series is a magnificent work of historical fiction. Bernard Cornwell has written an amazing series following Sharpe from a private in India to a Lt. Colonel at Waterloo and then a civilian farmer.
Oct 08, 2015 Marko rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The 20th Sharpe novel delves into the famous battle of Waterloo and pretty much nothing else. This time around, Sharpe serves in the staff of the Prince of Orange fighting the war against Napoleon. The author goes to great lengths to justify Sharpe's presence in the lead-up engagement and then in the main battle at Waterloo and not all of these feel very natural and Sharpe really doesn't have much to do in most of those battles and serves mostly as an observer.

This is the greatest failing of the
Jeff Yoak
Jun 03, 2010 Jeff Yoak rated it liked it
For the culmination of the war I've followed through all of these battles, the novel fell a little flat. I think it suffered from being such a culmination. Waterloo is a such a massive historical event ending a series of events the author is so obviously interested in that I think he couldn't resist making the novel more about Waterloo than about our heroes and their time in it.

A good example is the ubiquitous battle scene present in all of the novels. Bernard Cornwell writes excellent battle sc
May 13, 2009 Jacqie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Bernard Cornwell. He writes great historical military fiction. I've read several of the Sharpe books (totally out of order) and enjoy his gutter-born, dirty-fighting British soldier and survivor extraordinaire.
I have read better Sharpe books than this one, although I certainly did enjoy this book. Waterloo is a daunting subject and one I knew nothing about except that Wellington won the battle. There is such a wealth of literature that Cornwell ends up describing the battle at
Dec 28, 2015 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another book I couldn't finish. Boring and repetitive, it has failed to inspire me to learn about the Napoleonic Wars or military history. The characters seemed cartoonish and the descriptions of battle were much of a muchness. The whole subject matter seems dated and irrelevant as our digital society exponentially gathers pace and the notion of the nation state feels less and less important. It was becoming a chore to read, and I'd rather spend my free time reading better books and on other cre ...more
Gerald Matzke
Nov 16, 2015 Gerald Matzke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Bernard Cornwell's recent account of the Battle of Waterloo, I decided to read his earlier historical fiction account of Sharpe's involvement in this pivotal battle. For most of the book, Sharpe was an observer, moving from one part of the battlefield to another. Finally in the end he took a leadership role that led to the retreat of the French and the ultimate victory. Because so much has been written about this battle, I would guess that Cornwell did not want to get in the way of ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cornwell outdid himself with this original end to the Sharpe series. (Since then, he also wrote Sharpe's Devil in which Sharpe gets to meet the former Emperor on St Helena.)

Waterloo was a close call. Napoleon came within a millimeter's length of winning, but he was too hidebound to change his tactics that worked when facing lesser opponents. Here, he was facing Wellington, who was quite another kettle of fish entirely. I was gratified that in a book written primarily to entertain, its author man
Adam West
Jul 18, 2015 Adam West rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely a must read for any military history enthusiast. Cornwell starts out explaining events that led to Waterloo, specifically the twin battles of Quatre Bras and Ligney, where he shows how close Napoleon actually came to victory over the Prussians and British/Dutch armies. His detailed play by play look at the battle of Waterloo itself is very informative and draws many lessons learned for military leaders today. I think I may have found a new favorite author, I can't wait to read some mo ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be the end of the Richard Sharpe series, the 20th book. Waterloo.

It’s 1815 and the British, Dutch and Prussians meet the French near Brussels. Sharpe is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel leading Dutch troops. (Belgium used to be part of France – but now was part of the Netherlands. Are the loyal allies?) 338,000 battle and "...let loose hell." Mistakes. Courage. Confusion. Chaos. (Even the horses were trained to kill.) … … 40,000 dead.

I've always wondered about the strategies at Wa
Scott Martin
Dec 29, 2015 Scott Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audiobook). Given that we had the 200th anniversary of this most legendary battle and that I was in Belgium for the celebrations, it seemed only fitting to try to read up an account of the battle. This was a solid overview of the military situation in the weeks leading up to the fighting, the initial French successes against the Prussians and how the climatic few days of 18-20 June came to signal the end for Napoleon and his grand visions for a European Empire. The primary focus of this work is ...more
Brenda Guan
Dec 17, 2015 Brenda Guan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell accounts the beginnings, happenings, and aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, one of the most famous Napoleonic War battles that brought about the definite end to Napoleon Bonaparte’s influence in Europe and established the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon’s conqueror at Waterloo, as one of the greatest military commanders in British history. Cornwell establishes French and British strategy, the circumstances under which those strategies were carried out, and exactly how ...more
Nicholas Whyte

Sharpe's Waterloo is the culmination of an eleven-book series of novels about a British officer during the Napoleonic wars. It was recommended to me by Professor Brendan Simms, author of The Longest Afternoon, a factual treatment of the fighting around La Haye Sainte during the battle. I've read two other books by Cornwell, but none of the other Sharpe books, nor have I seen any of the TV series starring Sean Bean (I understand that, unlike some of the o
May 25, 2015 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Cornwell who is one of the best writers of historical fiction writing, turns his writer's eye and skill to the famous battle of Waterloo. This is the battle that ended the last hope of Napoleon to return as Emperor of France.
The battle of Waterloo was really three battles spread out over four days, and it is Cornwell's purpose to present an overview of the combat, the confusion, and the horror of the battle, and the persons involved, great and obscure, on the fields those days.
The book i
Although Napoleon Bonaparte came from Corsican royalty, his upbringing evidently lacked manners, else he would know it is most uncouth to interrupt a ball with a massive invasion. After years of brutal fighting in Portugal and Spain, Richard Sharpe thought he had seen the end of war. The imprisoned emperor's armies were defeated while he languished in Elba-- and yet, like a horror movie villain, he sprang back to life as soon as the peace was settled, resuming his role as Emperor and resurrecti ...more
I felt I ought to read something about Waterloo in the week leading up to the 200th Anniversary of the battle, so I've put a couple of books into the reading rotation. This one is to remind me of the basics (a history book cunningly disguised as fiction!), while The Longest Afternoon is an actual history of part of the conflict.
Gary Daly
Basic introduction to the Battle of Waterloo. Interesting anecdotes with an open landscape view of the politics, turmoil and participants. History regardless of its academic investigations reveals that nothing changes in the human condition. There is no difference between the hatred, violence, fear and even that dubious term glory of war. Surviving a battle worthy of historical notification easily transports ideology and fantasy of battle from the real into the imagined. Setting up generation af ...more
Alexander Coleman
I have read a number of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' series of books over the past few years. Although I have skipped over a few, I have largely tried to follow it in order. As a whole, the series never fails to hit the mark but after reading so many I was beginning to find them a little stale.

Waterloo however is easily one of the strongest in the series. This is partly due to the rich source material from a truly incredible few days in modern day Belgium, but also due to some excellent work by B
Jan 30, 2016 Alger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The end of the march (mostly) for Harper and Sharpe.

Essentially this narrative is reproduced as non-fiction in Cornwell's Waterloo: The True Story of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles, but without the fighting South Essex the action does not ring out. As always, Sharpe grabs the center stage of the action; first on the field, last to leave. He even gets to take credit for the maiming of Skinny Billy, the Price of Orange. An act the probably saved the battle and thousands of lives.

Jul 13, 2015 Henry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a well researched narrative about a great part of European history. Cornwell places a lot of focus on letters from the soldiers in the battle; their own words are a glimpse at the horror from the inside and I found that welcome. His sense of detail is impressive and the he does a good job of telling the story of the final battle in an hour-by-hour sequence that keeps a sense of suspense.

The book is challenging in two ways. First, the author has an annoying habit of relentlessly switching
James Targett
Sep 22, 2015 James Targett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating and excellent. Cornwell combines all his skills as an author to emotionally engage the reader, while using all his skill as a historian - normally used to research the background of his novels - resulting in a stunning account of Waterloo. And avoiding the dry tone that plagues some histories.
Dec 26, 2015 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't know how I missed this book out of the 21 Sharpe books, but glad I discovered this missing piece. I really enjoyed it, more than all the others, perhaps partially because I was reading it after a sizable lag time. I also was unaware that there had been a series produced based on these books with Sean Bean as Sharpe. There were wonderful examples of beautifully described settings/scenes in the quiet of the countryside before the arrival of the hordes and the brutal ends of so many - and I b ...more
Lisa Tangen
Dec 24, 2014 Lisa Tangen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book had cringeworthy descriptions of the horror of war. I felt sorry for the poor horses in the Calvary as they were always the main target. Then the desecration and pillaging of the bodies of the dead and wounded after battle...even to the point of extracting perfectly good teeth to sell to denture makers. This was a fascinating and well-written account of a historic event that until now i have known little about. Since I listened to the book on tape I don't know if the facts were fo ...more
Audio, narrated superbly by Frederick Davidson. I haven't read any other books in this series, nor have I seen any of the television episodes. Nonetheless, I was able to follow along. Main characters are Richard Sharpe and his best friend Patrick Harper, Prince of Orange (Slender Billy), Duke of Wellington, Jane (Sharpe's wicked wife, currently living with the besotted Lord John Rossendale), Sharpe's lover Lucille, etc etc.

I was particularly interested in Major Peter D'Alembord, serving under Fo
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Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother, who was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict Protestant sect who banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, C ...more
More about Bernard Cornwell...

Other Books in the Series

Richard Sharpe (chronological order) (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Sharpe's Tiger (Sharpe, #1)
  • Sharpe's Triumph (Sharpe, #2)
  • Sharpe's Fortress (Sharpe, #3)
  • Sharpe's Trafalgar (Sharpe, #4)
  • Sharpe's Prey (Sharpe, #5)
  • Sharpe's Rifles (Sharpe, #6)
  • Sharpe's Havoc (Sharpe, #7)
  • Sharpe's Eagle (Sharpe, #8)
  • Sharpe's Gold (Sharpe, #9)
  • Sharpe's Escape (Sharpe, #10)

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“The General knew he would probably die, for infantry took pleasure in killing cavalry and he would be the leading horseman in the attack on the bridge, but the General was a soldier and he had long learned that a soldier’s real enemy is the fear of death. Beat that fear and victory was certain, and victory brought glory and fame and medals and money and, best of all, sweetest of all, most glorious and wondrous of all, the modest teasing grin of a short black-haired Emperor who would pat the Dragoon General as though he was a faithful dog, and the thought of that Imperial favour made the General quicken his horse and raise his battered sword.” 0 likes
“Then, just as d‘Alembord was about to sell his commission and retire to one of his prospective father-in-law’s farms, Napoleon had returned to France. Colonel Ford, worried that he was losing his veteran Captain of skirmishers, had begged d’Alembord to stay for the impending campaign and implicit in the Colonel’s plea was a promise that d‘Alembord would receive the next vacant majority in the battalion. That enticement was sufficient. The captaincy would sell for fifteen hundred pounds which was a good enough fortune for any young man contemplating marriage, but a majority would fetch two thousand six hundred pounds, and so d’Alembord, with some misgivings, but reassured by the prospects of a fine marriage portion, had agreed to Ford’s request.” 0 likes
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