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The Napoleonic Wars: As Illustrated by J.J. Jenkins
By J.J. Jenkins

Hardcover: 168 pages
Published: February 28, 2019

A Review by Brian Williams

“The Napoleonic Wars” as Illustrated by J.J. Jenkins was originally published as “Martial Achievements of Great Britain and Her Allies From 1799 to 1815”. It is self-described as “Pure British propaganda but is overshadowed by the rarity of the art work”. It includes fifty-four stunning color plates of battlefield depictions including a portrait of Wellington and his coat of arms.

“The Napoleonic Wars” is a reproduction of the original work and artwork published in 1815. It is a collection of various battles and events during the Napoleonic Wars. Each battle and event contains 1-3 pages of narration, followed by a color plate of the event. It starts with the Storming of Seringapatam, 4 May 1799 and continues throughout over 40+ various campaigns (including The Battle of Seville, 27 August 1812, Burning of Moscow, 1812, Retreat of the French, The Battle of Leipsic, 19 October 1813, The Battle of Toulouse, 10 April 1814) and ends with the Battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo, 16 and 18 June 1815.

The text is what I would consider to be “military historical tribute” writing – not so much propaganda as the book is self-described. I only mention this because when I read the front inside jack and it mentioned this and I didn’t think the writing to be quite bad at all considering the subject material and purpose of the book at the time. It definitely is a tribute to the British forces and its allies during the Napoleonic Wars and should be thought of as such – I found it totally appropriate and enlightening and a great read. Along with the narration is the inclusion of several extracts from dispatches and personal letters which bring a perfect historical personal touch.

The beautiful artwork is an added nice touch to the narration and brings the book to life in sharp color. The illustrations are very colorful and should be judged through the eyes of an early 19th century reader – they are very impressive.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in 19th century European history and especially the Napoleonic Wars. I’m very thankful for the reprint.

If you are interested in seeing the original from 1815, the Boston Public Library has digitized it online: https://archive.org/details/martialachieveme00well/. It makes the reprint even more apprieciated.

About the Author:

David C. Weinczok is a writer, presenter, and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland based in Edinburgh. Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, he relocated to Scotland in 2011 and has been immersed in Scotland's history and heritage scene ever since. He is a regular features writer for The Scots Magazine and has composed works on Scottish history for History Today and History Scotland on subjects ranging from battle strategies and castle architecture to political philosophy and pop culture. David is a frequent guest on BBC Radio Scotland and presents documentary videos for Archaeology Scotland. He has visited nearly 400 Scottish castles to date and is known for creating online historical content as 'The Castle Hunter' to raise the profile of Scotland's ancient and medieval historic sites.

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© 2020 Brian Williams

Published online: 09/20/2019.

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