The scope of the book focuses on the almost legendary Austro-Piedmontese victory over the vastly superior numbers of invading French. Despite their overwhelming superiority in numbers every French attack was driven back, their commander-in-chief was killed and the army defeated with heavy losses. The author begins with a detailed summary of the war in Italy, in particular how the long war so far had impacted on the Piedmontese and Austrian armies after nearly seven years of bitter conflict. He then takes us on a journey through the seat of the war, Northern Italy, and the reasons why after almost arriving at a final peace. The war kicked off again with the French advance into Piedmont and the French invasion plans are also outlined.
The chapters on the state and organisation of the Piedmontese and Austrian Armies is quite revealing in level of detail when describing the organisation and effectiveness of both armies, but by far the most interesting section is a series of detail pen pictures of each of the Piedmontese regiments that took part in the battle. The same is done for the small Austrian force that fought alongside the Piedmontese troops.
What follows is a blow by blow account of each phase of the battle and its aftermath. The author has done an excellent job in presenting his step by step analysis of the battle, and gives the reader a clear impression of the events on the fateful battle and the days leading up to it.
The book benefits from 45 black and white images, many of which are contemporary but others are of the battlefield and its environs today. What I found really important were the present-day photos of the battlefield with the locations and movements of the armies during the battle. What struck me was the apparent harshness of the terrain shown in these photographs with steep slopes and the extent the entrenchments and their significant impact on the battle. There are also several really helpful maps, and the ones illustrating the battle at different points during the engagement are especially useful in getting a feel for what unfolded. The orders of battle make the Austrian and Piedmontese victory even more of an achievement given the disparity in the armies in terms of numbers and quality.
A remarkable book and a definitive detailed account which should be a great addition to the book shelves of anyone with an interest in the War of the Austrian Succession.
ISBN 978-1-911628-50-70 340 pages, Hardback