This was a time when newspapers didn't have reporters in the field (only Parliamentary correspondents) so the only unofficial sources of news were:
- Mr Sutton who had heard the news of Quatre Bras, the Napoleon Wellington skirmish 48 hours before Waterloo that ended in a draw (and Wellington falling back) which Sutton misinterpreted as an allied victory, telling London on Tuesday morning.
- The Green Knight of Kerry who spoke with Wellington after Quatre Bras and therefore knew the true situation
- The mysterious Mr C who was at the exiled court of the French King in Ghent when he heard the news of Waterloo and rushed to London, arriving Wednesday morning.
- And possibly an unknown informant of Nathan Rothschild who enabled the banker to buy government stock and make a profit
Cathcart, who also wrote even more brilliant The Fly in the Cathedral, tells these stories in an authoritative but fantastically clear and readable way. He debunks many myths. People just didn't use carrier pigeons in those days. Rothschild wasn't on the battlefield. Rothschild didn't start by selling shares causing a massive panic before buying loads up (the stock market records show no such panic). David Ricardo, however, made sufficient money to retire from promoting stocks and, working with his friend Thomas Malthus who also made money, found Economics as a science. The myths debunked, there is a still a remarkably dramatic story.
And one mystery is left: who was Mr C?
Great history. August 2016; 297 pages