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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Eminent Victorian Soldiers: Seekers of Glory
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on December 19, 2012
I truly enjoyed reading this book. It covers a number characters in the grand times of Victoria's little wars. The book provides a view of the men with a bit of review of how they operated, fought the enemy and sometimes each other. The little extra bits from their journals and letters make the people more accessible. This book does not gloss over their shortcomings, but it is not meant to be a critical review them either. I found the stories overall to be balanced and well researched. I loved to have had a bit more on each soldier, but that would be quibbling.

I would highly suggest this book to be on your reading list for this bloody, glorious period of time.
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on September 3, 2016
Yet another very good reference book by the "eminent" Mr. Farwell.

He names particular soldiers and tells of their exploits in an era where high adventure was the rule of the day.
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on October 9, 2005
The stories are interesting, the writing is engaging, but the genius of this book is to compress a set of biographies into a single book rather than the current trend of writing definitive 1000 page biographies of even minor figures. In bite sized chunks you can survey the human condition, learn something about the history of a time, and get a great set of stories in a fraction of the time.

I wish there were more books like this. I'd like to write a book like this. The subject matter itself is an acquired taste...but read the book anyway.
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on February 8, 2014
This book is a great read and primes you to read more about these interesting and driven Victorian Soldiers. Concise Bio's on these men which leaves you hungry for more. Buy this book and be introduced to some great soldiers that helped shape the Victorian World.
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on September 30, 2014
Excellent book revealing many of the shortcomings of these curious military leaders as well as their abilities. Makes you wonder about how the British were ever successful with their tiny army. I enjoyed it and it is a very easy read. Good author.
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on May 23, 2016
interesting a good collection of biographies
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on April 7, 2015
in depth look into these great generals
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on February 1, 2015
Very good book on the subject. Well written
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on November 30, 2012
A must read book. You simply can't stop reading it. Good research meets talent for narrative.

A grateful surprise. Few books that size bring so much info and fun on reading.
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VINE VOICEon April 4, 2007
Farwell has chosen eight men who became national heroes in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (he has a subsequent book called "Queen Victoria's Little Wars). The first two men in whose stories are presented (Gough and Napier) made most of their early imprints during the Napoleonic Wars and later starred in India. Farwell's stories about them are straight forward chronologies of their careers.

The third man to be bio-ed is Charles "Chinese" Gordon who made a name for himself during the Opium Wars in China, but later lost his life in the Sudan at Khartoum. He is the first of the group to be seen with a more critical eye; including the one that intimates that his death was partially self-inflicted by his arrogance.

Roberts is one of those men who always seemed to be at the right place at the right time and knew not only what was due from him, but a smart and creative way of accomplishing it. He was a 'soldiers soldier' and was one of the most respected men of his time for his courage, coolness under fire and concern for the men (including those in the ranks) who served with and under him. He was also a devoted family man.

Garnet Wolseley (much like Kitchener) was famous for his "Ring" of officers who followed him around the English Empire. Unless you were one of his, your chance of finding help or work was minimal. This attitude is what set him against his contemporaries Roberts and Wood.

Woods could be described as a plugger, and the longer he hung around the better he seemed to be. He doesn't really have much of a claim to fame but did a lot of the 'scut' work that was necessary in building the "Empire" in India and Africa. His career was unusual in that he originally was in the Navy and through some strange happenstance ended up as an Army Field Marshall

Macdonald was a man who was driven in so many ways by his personal demons. He was one of the few men of his day to rise through the ranks from private to general. This may have led him to always feel that he was under a microscope and had to do better than everyone else. Those he had a reasonable early and middle career, he was destroyed by ascersions of homosexuality and pedophilia, that drove him to eventual suicide.

The last to be bio-ed was Lord Kitchener who was an irrascible and taciturn man who also had his little coterie of officers whom he refered to as his "boys". There were only some hints at strangeness in him, he usually kept a young officer as his aide-de-camp but no improprieties were ever leveled at him. His greatest claim to fame was the conquest of the Sudan and the rebuilding of Khartoum. During WWI he served as Secretary of War and helped raise a Volunteer Army for the early fight in France. He was successful by raising a "Pals" Army that promised to keep groups of men together if they joined at the same time. The problem with this idea was that, men were place in the trenches with their friends and in many cases, the entire young male population of an area or town were wiped out in a single battle. Kitchener died while on a military visit to Russia.

All in all these are interesting stories for what they tell us about politics in the Victorian era (or error) and much about how things were run during the "Scramble for Africa" and the "Great Game" in Asia.
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