Monday 20 November 2023

The Conquer and Keep

To Conquer and Keep. Suchet and the War for Eastern Spain 1809-1814, is volume 1 of a two book series by Yuhan Kim. This volume covers the years 1809-1811 is an informative and really enjoyable account of an often ignored yet vitally important part of the Peninsular War. The French commander, Louis-Gabriel Suchet fought an impressive and successful campaign against the Spanish regular army and guerrilla forces and took control of much of Eastern Spain. In fact he was arguably the only French commander to come away from Spain with his reputation intact.

This book focuses on the sieges of Saragossa, Tortola and Tarragona, and the campaign in Catalonia and Aragon. Every major battle where Suchet was in command or where his subordinates were acting on his behalf is examined in great detail, and it is possible to picture some of the horrors that accompanied the storming of a ferociously defended city.

As ever, there are a good number of colour and black and white images of various personalities and troop types, together with half a dozen really handy and well drawn colour maps. A plethora of appendices give us detailed orders of battle at various stages throughout the campaign; those of the various Spanish armies are especially interesting.

Overall then, this is a tremendous book, bringing to the fore the details of this campaign often regarded as a bit of a sideshow when compared to the more ‘exciting’ campaigns to the west. I look forward to seeing the second volume, which takes us up to the ejection of the French from Spain in 1814.


  1. Sounds to me like the sort of volume I should keep a weather eye out for! I rather think that Marshal Lannes and (militarily speaking) Gouvion St Cyr did their reputations no harm, but they both left the theatre early, before anything much had been decided. I gather that Suchet's reputation historically was as much due to his administrative capacity as to his military ability.

  2. Another great review. I enjoy these very much.

  3. I had a conversation with the author when the project started, he read Suchet’s memoirs when he was 14, I was reading The Hotspur and Valiant.

  4. Both volumes ar published, at least I have them in my book shelf ;-))