By Rory Muir
Published Oct 2013
The Duke of Wellington was Britain’s greatest solder, whose victories helped to turn the tide of Napoleon’s conquests and played a crucial role in his downfall. But Wellington was much more: a general with an understanding that extended far beyond purely military matters, an astute player in the world of politics, a canny diplomat and a prominent figure in regency society. He was often at the centre of controversy, at times feted and celebrated as a national hero, at others reviled in the press and abused in the streets – a far more complicated, fascinating man than the paragon of virtue celebrated by Victorian biographers.
Rory Muir’s masterly new biography, the first of a two-volume set, is the result of a lifetime’s research into the Duke of Wellington and his times. The author brings Wellington into much sharper focus than ever before, examining every aspect of his life, from his unhappy childhood, his baptism into British and Irish politics and is remarkable successes in India, to the setbacks and triumphs of the Peninsula War. With vivid descriptions and analyses of major battles illuminating the keys to victory, Muir underscores the magnitude of Wellington’s military achievements. This biography is also the first to address the significance of Wellington’s political connections and skill, and to set his career within the wider context of British politics and the European scene. Far from his reputation for being cold and aloof, Wellington is here revealed as a man of feeling and principle as well as a magnificent soldier.