Wellington : The Iron Duke

3.85 (304 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


Richard Holmes, highly acclaimed military historian and broadcaster, tells the exhilarating story of Britain's greatest-ever soldier, the man who posed the most serious threat to Napoleon. The Duke of Wellington's remarkable life and extraordinary campaigns are recreated with Holmes' superb skill in this compelling book. Richard Holmes charts Wellington's stellar military career from India to Europe, and in the process, rediscovers the reasons Queen Victoria called him the greatest man the nineteenth century had produced. Combining his astute historical analysis with a semi-biographical examination of Wellington, Holmes artfully illustrates the rapid evolution in military and political thinking of the time. Wellington is a brilliant figure, idealistic in politics, cynical in love, a wit, a beau, a man of enormous courage often sickened by war. As Richard Holmes charts his progress from a shy, indolent boy to commander-in-chief of the allied forces, he also exposes the Iron Duke as a philanderer, and a man who sometimes despised the men that he led, and was not always in control of his soldiers.Particularly infamous is the bestial rampage of his men after the capture of Cuidad Rodgrigo and Badajoz. THE IRON DUKE is a beautifully produced book, complete with stunning illustrations and colour plates. Richard Holmes' TV series to accompany THE IRON DUKE will be lavishly constructed in four parts, and filmed on location in Britain, India, Spain, Portugal, France and Belgium.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 124 x 196 x 26mm | 281.23g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • colour illustrations
  • 0007137508
  • 9780007137503
  • 80,593

Back cover copy

In this compelling book - and hugely popular accompanying BBC series - Richard Holmes charts the extraordinary progress of Britain's greatest-ever soldier from the ruins of his family seat in Ireland to the plains of India, where Wellesley first gained his reputation as a brilliant and courageous commander, to the horrors of the Peninsular War and ultimately to Waterloo. Holmes excavates a brilliant figure, idealistic in politics, cynical in love, a wit, a beau, a man of enormous courage and iron duty often sickened by the horrors of war. However, Wellington's journey to greatness and recognition as the man who saved Europe from the tyranny of Napoleon, includes tales of philandering and exposes a man who sometimes despised the men he led, and was not always in control of them. THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON WAS NOT ALWAYS GOOD, BUT HE WAS UNQUESTIONABLY GREAT, AND THIS LIVELY AND INFORMED BOOK IS SOCIAL, MILITARY AND BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY AT ITS FINEST "Holmes has written the best life of Wellington that there is...Richard Holmes has returned from his long quest with an historical holy grail; the true character of Britain's grittiest soldier." ANDREW ROBERTS, 'Sunday Telegraph'show more

About Richard Holmes

Celebrated military historian and television presenter Richard Holmes is famous for his BBC series 'Rebels and Redcoats: The American Revolutionary War'; 'Wellington: The Iron Duke'; 'Battlefields'; 'War Walks' and 'The Western Front'. He is the author of many bestselling and widely acclaimed books including 'Firing Line', 'The Western Front', 'Sahib', 'Redcoat' and 'Tommy' '. He is general editor of the definitive 'Oxford Companion to Military History'. He taught military history at Sandhurst for many years and is now Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. His biography of the Duke of Marlborough is published by HarperCollins in 2008. He lives near Winchester in Hampshire.show more

Review Text

Renowned military historian Richard Holmes here turns his expertise to the story of the Duke of Wellington, a man regarded as Britain's 'greatest-ever soldier' in a beautiful book that serves as a companion to the lavish BBC series of the same name. The introduction pays tribute to Wellington, and reveals the huge impact he had on the author as a young boy. Acknowledging the fact that the Duke may not have always been good, Holmes defends him as being 'unquestionably great', and takes the reader back to his childhood days as Arthur Wesley, a member of the Protestant minority under siege in 18th-century Ireland. A far from ideal financial situation drove the family to England, where the young Arthur went to Eton as 'a shy young Irishman in England, an outsider'. Having dabbled in politics, he found himself in a British army smarting from defeat in America, and he returned from a disastrous military campaign in March 1795 all the wiser for having 'learnt what not to do'. The history of the times are expertly considered - from the development in weaponry to the enormous events unfolding across the continent of Europe - as they form a background to Wellington's life and his illustrious military career. But Holmes doesn't just discuss his role as a soldier; we also hear of his political idealism, his philandering and his skill with a well-placed pithy remark. Complete with maps, illustrations and colour plates, this book pretty much says all that needs to be said about Wellington, and very readably too. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

An astute historical analysis and a hugely readable informative narrative about Wellington's life from a shy, indolent boy to commander in chief of the allied forces that defeated Napoleon. The Iron Duke is shown to be idealistic in politics, cynical in love, a wit and a man of enormous courage often sickened by war.show more

Rating details

304 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 23% (69)
4 46% (141)
3 26% (78)
2 5% (14)
1 1% (2)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X