The Great Commanders 1

Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar, Ulysses Grant


For students of military history The Great Commanders series, produced for Channel 4 in Britain, is one of the finest examinations of the world's best-regarded soldiers yet seen.

The six-part series is available on two DVDs with the first volume covering the careers of Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar and Ulysses S. Grant and their most important battles.

For Caesar it is the siege of Alesia and his clash with Vercingetorix, Grant's efforts in the Wilderness win him a place and, of course, Austerlitz is Bonaparte's greatest success.

The 45-minute programme on Bonaparte introduces us to the young Corsican, his tribulations, meteoric rise to fame and power and his eventual defeat.

Austerlitz was the crowning glory of the French leader's military successes as he was outnumbered, but fooled his Austrian and Russian enemies into attacking him and then, by brilliant leadership, utterly destroying them.

Aided by excellent 3D graphics, experts tell just how astounding Bonaparte's victory was.

The documentary uses contemporary artworks to give a flavour for the period, but the winning touch is the use of an in-uniform actor to voice the first-hand account of Jean-Roch Coignet, whose memoirs are a prime source of material for Napoleonic studies.

This is a fantastic look at arguably history's best general and is worthy of a place in any enthusiast's library.

And buy the DVD, it makes finding the bits you are interested in so much easier!

Julius Caesar and Alesia

Few leaders have captured the imagination as well as Julius Caesar, the man who led Rome as an unofficial dictator and met an unwelcome end at the points of rivals daggers in 44BC.

Under Caesar Rome spread its influence as far as ancient Britain, but it is his astounding conquest of Gaul that features in this episode.

Utterly politically motivated and ruthless, Caesar's career up to the Battle of Alesia is recorded and you get to know a huge amount about how the man thought and worked.

His decisive battle at Alesia - where he was trapped between an enemy fortress and a massive relieving army - is one history's most interesting clashes.

The events are made even more exciting by the obvious respect that the expert panel has for Caesar's abilities and courage.

Ulysses S. Grant and The Wilderness

A failure at almost everything but marriage and war, Ulysses S. Grant became the commander of the Union (Blue) forces during the American Civil War and went on to become president of the United States.

Apart from looking at Grant's background and career, The Great Commanders details his crucial battle - The Wilderness in 1864.

It examines the lead-up to the battle, the effect of Grant's leadership on his men's morale and how he managed to win a strategic victory over the formidable Confederate army.

Military history experts give their appreciation of Grant and why he could be considered one of the great commanders.






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