ja paths of glory

Review :

A thorough, accessible, and engaging biography of General James Wolfe, with the battle at Québec being the main highlight. Brumwell's research is thorough and he fully explores the life and controversies of this man, and he does a fine job fleshing out Wolfe as a real person with real human qualities.

Wolfe had seen action at Culloden and considered his service in North America as "the dirtiest and the most insignificant and unpleasant" position he could have found himself in, as well as a generally hopeless enterprise. Brumwell also explores how Wolfe contributed to his profession as a whole, something previous historians have tended to overlook.

While historiography on Wolfe has tended to go back and forth, Brumwell presents a more nuanced portrait of the man and concludes that Wolfe was a fine soldier if not a great commander, who had a good degree of both luck and daring. While not a particularly appealing character and not always exercising good judgement, Wolfe was always a man of action and he was a superb trainer of soldiers. While many historians have caricatured Wolfe's siege of Québec as a death wish, Brumwell suggests instead that he simply wanted to make Québec his last campaign and that he was planning to retire once the war was over, which makes more sense given that Wolfe was engaged to be married at the time.

An excellent biography of Wolfe. Brumwell is well-versed in the subject matter and his use of the sources is judicious. Some more maps would have helped, though.


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