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To Conquer and to Keep: Suchet and the War for Eastern Spain 1809-14 Volume 1 1809-1811

To Conquer and to Keep: Suchet and the War for Eastern Spain 1809-14 Volume 1 1809-1811

To Conquer and to Keep: Suchet and the War for Eastern Spain 1809-14

Volume 1 1809-1811

Yuhan Kim

Helion Books 2023

(From Reason to Revolution Series No. 107)

ISBN: 9781915070470

238pp, 27 illustrations, 11 coloured maps and 11 appendices listing various orders of battle – both French & Spanish.

Despite a great deal having been written on the Peninsular War, the war conducted by General/Marshal Suchet on the East Coast of Spain has gained scarcely any coverage in the English language, apart from Suchet’s own heavily biased accounts and Nick Lipscombe’s Wellington’s Eastern Front which concentrates mostly on the British involvement. The war as seen by the Spanish and a serious critical analysis of Suchet’s campaigns has therefore been sadly lacking – and this two-volume set aims to plug that gap, which it does admirably.

The various methods utilised by the Spanish forces, both regular and irregular is examined thoroughly alongside Suchet’s intelligent assessment of the challenge and the radical methods he utilised to counter that Spanish threat. The character of Suchet is also thoroughly evaluated, and the author does not shy away from the ruthless streak that occasionally surfaced, such as the ruthless siege of Tarragona to gain his promised marshal’s baton and subsequent turning over of the city to his vengeful troops after the dreadful siege, simply as a tool to cow the Spaniards from further resistance.

The book covers in six chapters, an overview of the Peninsular War, Suchet’s introduction into Spain with his campaign against Zaragoza, the Occupation of Aragon, the campaign into Catalonia, the siege of Tortosa and finally the siege of Tarragona.

The illustrations are produced in good quality and the coloured maps are very nicely produced, something that is essential for such an ill-known campaign. If I am to criticise a little, the map of the general campaign area hidden away on page 83, should have been situated near the start of the book for ease of reference; and the soft cover, which bends as soon as you look at it, detract from an otherwise excellent production. I can ignore the few understandable occasions where the author has slipped into the American vernacular.

However, overall, this is an excellent treatment of a little-known campaign, utilising numerous Spanish and French sources, largely unknown to an English-speaking audience and this reader for one cannot wait for Volume 2 to appear in the very near future. Highly recommended.

Gareth Glover

June 2023