This account of the last third of Britain's long war against Revolutionary and Napoleonic France begins in 1807, when all of continental Europe was under Napoleon's sway. It traces the course of the war through the Spanish uprising of 1808, the campaigns of Wellington and Moore in Portugal and Spain, to the crossing of the Pyrenees by the British army, the invasion of southern France, and the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The overthrow of Napoleon was achieved not by a single general, a single army, or a single nation. Muir sets Britain's military operations on the Iberian Peninsula within the context of the wider European conflict, and examines how diplomatic, financial, military and political considerations combined to shape policy and priorities. The focus is on the politicians who controlled Britain's grand strategy as well as on the soldiers who led its armies in the field, while the book also examines the personalities of Canning and Castlereagh, Perceval and Lord Wellesley, Wellington and the Prince Regent. The book is based on investigation of primary and secondary sources, and on examination of the papers of the Duke of Wellington.
It includes coverage of the financial background of Britain's campaign. Muir places the war, and the manner in which it was fought, in a wholly modern perspective, based not only on military might but on the effectiveness of the British economy and the coherence of the nation that sustained it.