This is a book that makes the study of tactics informative exciting and enjoyable. First published on the eve of the Great War the author begins with the masterley campaigns of Frederick the Great and goes on to use first person accounts in his description of the tactics employed by Napoleon during the American Civil War and by the Prussians against the Austrians at Sadowa (1866) and and the French at Sedan (1870). The book also includes Britain’s ‘small wars’ such as the Indian Mutiny (1857-58) and General Roberts’ attack at Peiwar Khotal in Afghanistan (1878). Desert warfare is also covered including the battle of Abu Klea (1885) when Lord Garnet Wolseley surprised the Arabs with an advance through the desert and Sir John McNeill’s similar but less successful operation at Tofrik in 1885.The Boer War is dealt with in some detail including the cavalry charge at Klip Drift (1900) and Kitchener’s attack at Paardeberg (also 1900). The Boer War is the subject of a valuable critique by the author who also looks at the Russo-Japanese War where so many lessons could have been learned but were not. The book ends with an appreciation of the situation just before the First World War when the prevailing military doctrines - including the importance of cavalry - were to be disproved in the stasis of the trenches. The author’s compelling arguments are backed up by the profuse use of maps to illustrate the campaigns he discusses so clearly.
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