Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Reason Why

The Reason Why - Cecil Woodham-Smith

This is a popular (i.e., footnotes-free) account of the famous military disaster The Charge of the Light Brigade near the start of the Crimean War.  The short biographies of Lords Lucan and Cardigan and the social history of the early Victorian era are excellently done. So is the section on the causes and effects the famine in Ireland (Lord Lucan was a landlord there).

The book describes how aristocrats were able to buy high positions in the army, thus going over the heads of more experienced but less connected officers. It was a system that made it too easy for deeply flawed characters such as Lords Lucan and Cardigan to contribute to military disasters.

Readers who liked Leon Wolff’s In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign will like this one too. Beautifully written in a lucid style, it made me want to read W-S’s other books about  the famine in Ireland and even Florence Nightingale. I saw her biography of Queen Victoria at the AAUW UBS* in the days when such events were safe but didn't buy it (for a buck) because the spine was loose. I could kick myself.

*Young 'uns ain't the only ones that can use cryptic abbreviations. Nyah.

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