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The Destruction of Lord Raglan: A Tragedy of the Crimean War 1854-55 (Wordsworth Military Library) Paperback – August 19, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions (August 19, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840222093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840222098
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.4 x 2.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,469,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Mosher on October 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Crimean War brought the armies of Britain, France, Turkey, Russia, and eventually Sardinia (Italy) to fight on the shores of the Black Sea's Crimean Peninsula. One product of this conflict was the creation of tens of thousands of letters, personal memoirs, official histories, and modern accounts of the battles and the related war that today fill the shelves of the world's libraries, archives, and perhaps even today its attics.

This resulted in great part not only from the efforts of Mr. Russell of The London Times, the first modern war correspondent, and his colleagues, but also from the many literate veterans of this conflict, especially from England. The Crimean War was probably the first war to produce so many accounts from the soldiers in the ranks instead of just the army commanders and senior officers. With such raw material to work with it is little wonder that the library on the Crimean War has continued to grow as historians continued to work through it.

Over his career, historian Christopher Hibbert has written many excellent works recounting the history and/or biography of places, events, and individuals both British and non-British. He presented his contribution on the Crimean war in 1961 in the form of this biography/military history centered upon the role the of the British Army's Commander, Lord Raglan, before and during the war in the Crimea. Curiously, Hibbert's book appeared at about the time that I first read Cecil Woodham-Smith's "The Reason Why" and discovered the body of scholarship on this conflict that was relatively forgotten and unknown in the United States at that time.
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Format: Paperback
First I should say that the copy I'm reviewing is the one I bought in 1967 (for 6 shillings, or about 40 US cents!). However, there is nothing in the description of the edition currently offered (at prices from $21.30 up) to suggest that the text has been changed, so I shall assume that my copy reflects what is in the edition of 1999.

The Crimean War has long been a textbook case of the incompetence of the British generals in fighting the war, and of the incompetence of the government at home at keeping them properly supplied. The Charge of the Light Brigade is the most famous example of a military disaster, but it occupies less than six pages in a book of nearly 400, and is just one of many disasters caused by incompetence. Similar examples have, no doubt, occurred through history, but the Crimean War is special because it was the first war of modern journalism, with a war correspondent from the (London) Times present throughout, and sending regular reports. Earlier wars (and to some degree of later ones, for which there was much more stringent censorship of newspapers than existed on the British side at Crimea) tend to be seen through the eyes of the victorious generals, who have a natural tendency to emphasize their successes and downplay their failures. Nor do they stress the incompetence of their defeated enemies, because it is more impressive to win against fierce and well organized troops than against feeble ones.

The publication of military secrets in the Times was certainly the cause of some of the British problems -- "We have no need of spies", said the Tsar, "we have the Times" -- but it hardly explains everything.
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Format: Hardcover
A reviewer friend of mine had good things to say about author Christopher Hibbert, so I started looking for some of his titles, especially since Hibbert published during the middle of the last century--a period of historiography that I tend to gravitate toward anyway. Hibbert's titles aren't scarce, but they aren't always easy to find without resorting to online sellers--eventually I ran across THE DESTRUCTION OF LORD RAGLAN, and eagerly snatched it up; not only was it the author I'd been looking for, but also about an event of which I had very little knowledge.

For those wondering what all that verbiage has to do with the review, the point is that while reading, I was evaluating this author as much as the information he presented. I'm often looking for comprehensive, general surveys of different periods and events, but am also well aware that there has been a growing trend in recent years toward revisionism, written for the sole purpose of justifying contemporary attitudes and opinions. One of the reasons I'm drawn toward accounts written in the middle of the last century is because there seemed to be less of that trend then; and recent controversies surrounding previously-acclaimed historians such as Stephen Ambrose, Orlando Figes, and even journalists such as Ryszard Kapuaeciñski make me wary of accepting any author immediately. Since my reading is broad and not deep, it may be years before I read anything else about the Crimean War, and I want the greatest value for the time spent--value being measured by a lucid narrative and impartiality.

The title alone of LORD RAGLAN suggested to me that this was a rehabilitation project--and this, I think, can be entirely separate from revisionism as it's currently meant.
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