Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes

I've just finished reading this and, having enjoyed Rifles as a really well written and informative read, I have to say that I was a bit underwhelmed thus time round. It's a very readable and well thought out book but it isn't really what it's supposed to be.

The coverage of the intelligence operation behind the Peninsular campaign is certainly there but it's not exactly centre stage, although very interesting nonetheless. There's a lot more on the campaign itself that has very little relation to code breaking or deciphering and more to do with the course of the conflict in general.

It's still very much worth reading, so don't let me put you off, but I enjoyed Rifles to a far greater extent. I have no plans to do anything Napoleonic in the foreseeable future, so I have an open mind when it comes to this sort of thing. I'll be looking out for more by Mark Urban, as I really like his style of writing, even if he strays off the thematic path now and again.


  1. Good stuff. I enjoyed this book as well. I found it quite interesting to read of the egoism and stifling class-structure amongst Wellington's staff (including of course the Duke himself). If Scovell had not participated in that critical charge at Talavera he probably would have gone un-noticed - and his talents would have been very much missed.

  2. A book I've read as well and I totally agree with your appraisal. Not a 'ronseal' book - if you get my meaning :) - but interesting nevertheless.