Wellington – a personal history by Christopher Hibbert

I have long retained an interest in the Napoleonic period. Not sure why –  the names are somehow evocative and perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it is the only period of history I remember at all from my schooldays.

Wellington is also a figure who has fascinated me. I visited Apsley House a few years’ ago, for work of all things, and remember it well. So I decided to read a biography and a quick search on Amazon came up with this one, which I then bought on Abebooks. (I have largely stopped buying new books – Abebooks is a great service. It is the second hand version of Amazon and is part of the same company.)

This subtitled ‘a personal history’ and it does indeed focus on the great man’s private life. But the big historical events are covered, albeit a bit obliquely, as background to the personal stuff. But it is very nicely written and never flags. I enjoyed it a lot and feel I know a lot more about Lord W than I did before, without any sense of having had to work at it.

Mr Hibbert is a bit of a career biographer, so he knows how to keep a story moving while at the same time sticking to the facts. In fact, that is a point worth mentioning – he does not impart his own judgements but lets the material speak for itself. I liked that.

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