Thursday, 30 October 2008

Bernard Cornwell – “Sharpe’s Prey”

Publ: 2002 ISBN: 9780007796502
Rating: **** 4 stars

Yes, another Sharpe novel. There’s not much doubt that I am hooked on this way of learning about British foreign policy and wars at the turn of the nineteenth century. This one is Richard Sharpe and the Expedition to Copenhagen 1807. Whilst the Battle of Copenhagen of 1801 (during which Nelson turned a blind eye to the signal to discontinue action) is well remembered by the British the iniquitous expedition of 1807 is largely and conveniently forgotten. The 1801 battle was between the respective navies and the casualties on both sides were troops. In 1807 the British simply bombarded the town in order to take the Danish fleet. The British government had nothing against the poor Danes but simply wanted to pinch the fleet before the French did. Smashing Copenhagen and its civilian population to bits seemed a good way to encourage the Danes to give us the fleet! As usual Richard Sharpe is in the thick of the action with his own private agenda getting muddled up with the ‘greater good’. And, as usual, it’s a first class tale with a useful postscript to sort the fact from the fiction.

Bernard Cornwell
– See Sword Song

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