The Crimean War: A History
When asked about the Crimean War, many readers may be able to recall only the barest of details, such as Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” or images of Florence Nightingale nursing soldiers. Orlando Figes seeks to rectify this lack of understanding in his marvelous new book. A noted historian, Figes draws on a wide array of sources – British, French, Russian, and Ottoman – to document the political, geographic, and religious complexity of the mid-19th century conflict, the consequences of which are still felt today in both Europe and the Middle East.
This narrative history provides the context necessary to understand the impact of this first modern war, in which the West sided with the Turks against Russia’s attempts at political and religious expansion. Tools such as the telegraph and railways, along with on-site photographers and reporters, changed the way battles were fought; the Crimean War also saw the beginnings of the middle-class soldier and the end of the aristocratic management of the military. The background and the battles are well-documented and accompanied by maps and plates. This eminently readable volume connects events and individual voices, and reinforces the adage that those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.