We are pleased to announce the publication of an omnibus edition that combines my two 1809 books into one. This edition features revised text, better maps, and numerous new images, while preserving the essential narrative thrust that characterizes Napoleon Books. I was also able to utilize many more Austrian sources as well as additional French accounts. The objective is both to satisfy my existing readers and to attract a new generation to the historical drama of the Napoleonic era.
Few writers re-read their own work after it is published and I am among them. I did happily observe that Crisis on the Danube (1990) and Napoleon Conquers Austria (1995) provoked a minor cascade of writings devoted to the 1809 campaign. I was content to leave it at that until my more recent publications on Napoleon’s 1806 and 1807 campaigns stimulated a modest interest in my earlier work. The notion that new readers had no choice but to pay ridiculous sums for used copies, or purchase a second-rate print-on-demand from the original publisher, inspired the decision to republish my 1809 work.
The publication of a second edition of Crisis on the Danube in 2009 coincided with the two-hundredth anniversary of the events described in the book. Reviewing its text was a mostly pleasant experience. Yes, there were a few cringe-inducing turns of phrase, an absence of first names for many generals (pre-internet days for those who recall them) and some mixed-up spellings caused by French sources altering German names, but, by and large, the original 1990 edition appeared to me to be sound in style and content. Indeed, the passage of years has generally been kind to Crisis on the Danube. I am proud that its major themes have stood the test of time and that it seems to have inspired a succession of books on both the campaign as a whole and on particular battles.
This omnibus edition expands on the originals while consolidating redundant text. Compared to the time when I originally studied the 1809 campaign, the development of the internet has hugely eased the task of research. In addition, over the years as I have consulted sources for various Napoleonic topics, I have stumbled onto new details. For example, the wife of the engineer who commanded the successful bridging efforts across the Danube in July 1809, the Countess Bertrand—“Fanny” to her husband—was always proud of her husband’s accomplishments. Henri and Fanny accompanied Napoleon into exile, and on the first day of 1817, the emperor wanted to give her a gift. He searched among the handful of precious plates that he had managed to bring to Saint-Hélène and chose a commemorative plate recalling “the passage of the Danube.” What a charming, poignant gesture!
While the past eighteen months have severely restricted travel, Roberta and I did manage one dive trip to the Caribbean. Here we dove the wreck of the San Jacinto, the Federal steam frigate that, in 1861, intercepted the Trent, a British mail packet, in order to capture two Confederate envoys on their way to Europe to purchase war goods. The “Trent Affair” came close to bringing the United States and Great Britain to war. It was fabulous to come in close contact with such important history. While in the islands, we learned the sailor’s farewell, “Safe Passages,” meaning safety from the vagaries of wind, wave and all other threats.
As autumn here on the farm mellows, we wish you all safe passages.
James R. Arnold