* Review coverage in the national and specialist press
Trevor Royle is a well-known writer and broadcaster on military history. His two most recent books are highly praised biographies of two of Britain's best-known yet unorthodox imperial servants - Glubb Pasha and Orde Wingate.
Mighty wars spring from unusual sources. Four major powers (Britain, France, and Turkey vs. Russia) went to war in 1854 over who should hold the front-door keys to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Scottish historian Royle (Last Days of the Raj) shows how this spark ignited smoldering European political tensions. Huge armies battled for two years over a single Russian city, Sevastopol, on the Black Sea. Once it fell to the allies, a peace was quickly engineered that failed to resolve the underlying tensions. The war's chief significance was its innovations: it introduced trench warfare, mined harbors, battlefield nursing, and up-to-the-minute press coverage. Royle's narrative is clear and readable, balancing battle descriptions and political maneuvering. The only flaw is the lack of a large-scale map, though smaller maps appear. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.DBob Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
'a tour de force, a splendidly written account of the diplomatic and military blunders that signalled the end of what promised to be a century of peace' - LITERARY REVIEW 'his book is gripping, with the momentum of the cavalry charges that he describes so well' - Norman Stone 'Trevor Royle's new history tells the whole story of the Crimean War and puts it in its context, drawing on a variety of new sources as well as representing classic accounts. Overall it is a powerful piece of narrative history. The Battle of the Alma, for instance, after which so many London streets and pubs have been named, is described in a vivid chapter, a "victory that owed everything to the resolve and courage of the British infantrymen." Advancing up a heavily defended hill, one young officer later reported "the fire was so hot that you could hardly conceive it possible for anything the size of a rabbit not to be killed." Royle then adds: "Minutes later he was shot in the cheek, losing 23 teeth and part of his tongue." This balance of excitement and terror is well captured throughout the work. (The Irish journalist William Russell reported a different perspective on the battle: "There was a sickening, sour, fetid smell everywhere and the grass was slippy with blood.") Royle gives powerful accounts of the famous military engagements, the Charge of the Light Brigade and Thin Red Line at the Battle of Balaklava, the "ferocious hand-to-hand fighting" of the Battle of Inkerman. But he also places these flashes of military adventure in the larger context. This was a war fought in many places other than the Crimea--Royle's chapter on the fighting in Armenia, for instance, is entitled "the forgotten war", and there were also naval campaigns in the Baltic and Pacific. The British suffered casualties of 19,584 overall, but only one tenth of this number actually died on the battlefield; the rest died of disease. Royle's chapter on Florence Nightingale and her nurses recaptures the horror her contemporaries felt at hearing about the dreadful conditions of the Field Hospitals. Reading these accounts it is amazing that any wounded man survived at all: "Surgeons operated with unsterilised instruments, wounds were dressed with lint from discarded linen and operating tables were encrusted with the blood and detritus from previous patients." The whole book is a vivid and definitive read.' - Adam Roberts, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW
In the century between Napoleon and WWI, only one major international war was fought among the European powers. Faintly understood, the Crimean War--which pitted Britain and France with the Ottoman Empire against Russia--was the war that made Florence Nightingale famous. But although it was arguably the hinge upon which much subsequent history turned, little is known about it, or remembered--except for the charge of the Light Brigade. (Indeed, two of the British commanders who served there--Lords Raglan and Cardigan--are known more for their contributions to fashion than for their military deeds.) In Crimea, Royle (Winds of Change: The End of Empire in Africa) remedies this situation. A writer and journalist specializing in military history, he covers not just the Crimea, but also the entire Black Sea region in his beautifully written study. He describes the diplomatic maneuverings that passed between the belligerents and their potential allies (like the United States), and he thoughtfully considers the causes, conduct and consequences of the war. And although he provides a massive amount of detail, it is a testament to his skill that the details never overwhelm the narrative. Thorough and informative, this scholarly book will interest readers of history and military history alike; for the present, it also stands as the definitive treatment of the Crimean War. Illus. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.