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Open Book Napoleon's Imperial Guard: Uniforms and Equipment: The Infantry

Discussion in 'Reviews , Video Reviews and Open Book' started by Chrisr, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. Chrisr PlanetFigure Supporter

    Napoleon's Imperial Guard: Uniforms and Equipment: The Infantry. Paul L Dawson. Frontline Books, Yorkshire-Philadelphia, 2019

    According to the author this book "aims to describe briefly the histories of the various infantry formations of the Imperial Guard and to provide a detailed breakdown of the uniforms of these regiments." It fails to do so on both counts, but like the curate's egg it has its redeeming factors, primarily the abundant colour photographs of original uniforms, headdress and items of equipment. together

    Commencing with an incomplete glossary that describes the main items of clothing, together wth with colour photographs of several items, it then delves into a disjointed 'history' of the guard that concludes in 1804. This is followed a chapter on 'the organisation and operation of an infantry regiment', which dwells primarily on barrack life and administration, and a brief chapter on clothing and equipment that largely discusses the cloth used in making uniforms.

    The bulk of the book is devoted to a chapter each on the units of the Imperial Guard infantry, commencing with the staff, then the various grenadier units, the various chasseur regiments, rounding out with the ancillary services, the marines, and the Engineers, Administrative units and the Veterans. Sadly, they lack a common structure, presenting a disjointed narrative that flits from one subject to another. Nor does it present a comprehensive or detailed discussion of each of Guard infantry uniforms.

    Each chapter largely consists of tables of clothing and equipment held at a particular time, or lists of clothing purchased by the regiment committee during various periods, including the lengths of cloth, numbers of buttons, buckles, waist belts, etc and their cost. One wonders why the reader needs to have these repetitive lists and tables, but they make for a very unsatisfactory read. From them the author surmises on the use of certain items as part of the unit's uniform, but we never get a complete description of what each uniform comprised. Many of the chapters are illustrated wth contemporary prints exhibiting the uniforms worn, together with colour photographs of original items of uniforms, headdress and weapons and equipment, principally held in museums, and it from these the reader is able to gain an impression of what a unit's uniform looked like. Others, however, are devoid of any illustrations whatsoever, and one is left largely in the dark about what was worn.

    Overall, it is a disappointing effort, more so because Frontline Press has delivered it in a handsome format on high quality shiny paper with abundant colour illustrations, which are the one redeeming factor of the book. While it may satisfy those wishing to delve into certain minutiae, the lay reader and the figure painter will be frustrated with it.

    Hammond_Lord, Manfred, NeilW and 2 others like this.
  2. Nap A Fixture

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for posting this ..I have this and agree ref all the tables and lists are included are a bit off putting ..woukd have preferred there to be more illustrations instead of artifacts and Keith Rocco's fab artwork

    image.jpeg image.jpeg

    There's also a companion book on the cavalry which has the same format


    Both are good additions to a book shelve if only for for the high quality presentation of colour

    There's also this from Mr Dawson


    Hammond_Lord likes this.
  3. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    I have the book in pdf format, pain to read on screen but have bookmarked all the pictures which helps. I can also enlarge the page to get a bit more detail. Don't think I will get the others though.
  4. Gary_81 Active Member

    As with your other book review great job Chris.

  5. Manfred Active Member

    I agree to your review. Lovely colour plates and photographs, interesting little facts but the text is laborious to me. Then again I'm not a native speaker. Not sure yet if I will buy the other two books.

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