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Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Critique of the French Army of the War of Austrian Succession.







In an effort to pep up my blog I thought I would give a frank review of one of the books I received at Christmas 2014. To be honest I only started reading this book last night, but managed to get in an hours reading so I feel qualified to comment on the matters that I feel are relevant.
 I dont know David Wilson but do have quite a few miniatures that he designed and which were sold under the Jackdaw label. I like the figures which clearly are greatly influenced by the Willie ranges.
 Mr Wilson clearly knows his stuff as regards the French army in the 1740 period.
 This book reflects this. He has attempted to provide an accurate description of the uniforms worn by the French Army and for that I have no complaints. In fact I applaud him for writing this book.
The book is not cheap costing a hefty £48.50 p from Caliver Books.
 I like the drawings that he has provided, although I would have liked more especially of the Foreign and Light regiments.
 My chief criticisms of the book are the poor and perhaps non existent proof reading of the book.Scattered throughout the book are typos and spelling mistakes.
My second and main criticism is the very poor sentence construction which litters the book.
 If I did not know otherwise I would have thought the book had been written by a Frenchman who had a poor grasp of English and not vice versa.

For example;...........
 '' For even though all commands & service was in the French language, at least for the French national regiments,and this since the times of Francois 1st [ Ordanance of Villers Coteret ]there were still some six different spoken & written languages as well as several strong dialects spoken in France,even today,with the exception that now most of these French peoples also speak French,this was not the case in the 18th Century''.

 Perhaps its me, and I admit I did not have a university education but I found this and many other sentences throughout this book damned nearly impossible to understand. The other gripe I have is the use of & for the word and. What is this about.
 From the short history that David Wilson has provided about himself he was born when punctuation and sentence construction were still taught ie, the 1960's onwards.
I know that I sound like Victor Meldrew, but at nearly £50.00 a shot I expect a book to be a pleasurable experience, I do not expect to be losing patience with the contents due to piss poor writing.
 Mr Wilson clearly knows his subject, he also has been able to gain access to primary sources which have not been used before. His actual descriptions of the regiments are good, although additional sketches would have been nice. But the actual book is in my opinion let down by shoddy proof reading and the inability of the author to write clear and concise sentences.
 Would I buy it if I knew what I know now?
Yes, but only if it was £20.00 cheaper & properly proof read.  5/10 must try harder.











11 comments:

  1. Robbie,
    I have to agree with you, as a quick point of reference on the regiments it is extremely good but as a read then, as you say, for the price not so good. Mr Wilson did take me to task on TMP over my totally inaccurate Royal Ecosse for the '45.
    I did stump him when I informed him that I was aware of the controversy over the alleged uniform but I wanted them like that. - he never did respond.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy New Year Graham,
      God knows what he will make of my Garde of Lorraine then.
      I think the Stephen Manley books are a better source of information, but obviously harder to get.
      Thanks Robbie.

      Delete
  2. Agreed. Lengthy and convoluted sentences as well as poor proof reading/editing are points we shouldn't have to expect or deal with in books that cost as much as this one. Frankly, these make me think twice about forking over a not inconsiderable sum for it. Sad really.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evening Stokes,
      thanks for the comment. By the way, I have been re reading your article from the Summer Wargames annual 2014.
      There are a fine looking regiment in white coats and bearskins, in one of the photographs, who was the manufacturer? I would like a unit.
      Thanks Robbie.

      Delete
  3. What Graham and Stokes say. Very poorly written and as a result over priced!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know David well and saw the manuscript before publication almost 3 years ago. I also remember Dave Ryan telling me that he had to have said manuscript "edited and proof read"- doesn't sound as if that went well !! Mind you I didn't find David writing as difficult as some appear to do but then perhaps I'm used to it and yes it does get a bit convoluted.
    I've also been through the Royal Eccossais argument with him with similar rsults to Graham- though he did concede that Officers may have worn the bonnet and short coat in Scotland .
    Pricing of course has nothing at all to do with David.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evening Andy,
      He is obviously a very keen enthusiast, and you know I thought his figure designs were top notch, its just a shame that his book is dogged by poor proof reading. Perhaps he was under pressure to get it published.
      Thanks Robbie.

      Delete
    2. Apparently - according to Dave Ryan - Stuat Asquith "sorted out" the manuscript- don't how true that is or what Stuart did as I won't be buying the book.
      I know I corrected some of the early draft.. Remeber David speaks French in everyday life as he lives in Nice with his wife Josette.

      Delete
  5. The howler I enjoyed most was, "The Duke of Noilles was an accomplished soldier & courtesan...". Now I assuming that Mr Wilson has terrible handwriting and the word 'courtier' was transposed but then again I suppose there could be a whole aspect of the Duke's character of which I was previously unaware! But seriously, a £45 book really does merit some half-decent proof-reading.

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  6. As I have kept reading this book, there seems to be textual mistakes wherever Mr Wilson has been describing either French personalities, anecdotes and general descriptions. It is only when he describes the actual uniforms that there dont appear to be many errors. It is a shame because I was really looking forward to this book.

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  7. I can only agree with your criticisms. I have just read it after getting the book for Christmas. I have to say I am surprised as I have never really come across these problems before with a book from Caliver. A great shame and unless matters improve I will not waste £50 on the next volume.

    Guy

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating