I published my reading list on this blog recently, and finished a book yesterday, so I thought I would use Scribbling Saturday to report on someone else’s scribblings. Mark Urban‘s scribblings, in fact. The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes.
I was interested in the book because I am interested in the Peninsular War – you know, Wellington and Napoleon in Spain and Portugal. I know it’s strange – blame Sean Bean and Sharpe! Oh, and Bernard Cornwell.
The book is a biography of George Scovell, who worked in the Quartermasters division of Wellington’s army. He was given responsibility for creating a group of Guides who were basically spies sent out into the countryside to find out what the French armies were up to.
Many dispatches were captured between the various leaders and Napoleon and his brother Joseph, who he had set up as King of Spain. But they were in code. Urban goes into some detail about the codes used, and the painstaking way that Scovell cracked them. He also details the campaigns that were fought.
The book is well written, but very detailed, and wouldn’t be for everyone. I enjoyed it very much.