Simon MacDowall, Malplaquet 1709 (Osprey, 2020)
When is a victory not a victory? Perhaps when the price is too high as the Duke of Marlborough discovered at the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709. In this Osprey Campaign series book, Simon MacDowall guides us through the campaign, the battle, and its aftermath. It is a very bloody story.
Malplaquet 1709 follows the standard format for these Osprey books. MacDowall introduces the campaign, sets up a timeline, describes the opposing commanders, forces, and their plans, then brings us into the opening moves before the battle. That takes up half the book with the second half describing the action. And what a battle it was with intense fighting in the woods on both flanks and a concentrated cavalry battle in the centre. For those that hold to the myth of the bloodless 18th Century battle, this will be quite the eye opener. MacDowall is ably assisted by the usual high quality maps and illustrations we have come to expect from Osprey, but this time with the addition of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s brilliant and honest contemporary sketches and paintings.
There are no real surprises in this solid addition to the Campaign series other than it took so long for Osprey to get around to what was a very important and consequential battle. Still, as an introductory book for the battle and the nature of Marlburian warfare, Malplaquet 1709 is a very good place to begin.