The Crimean War: A History

Orlando Figes, Afterword by
Orlando Figes, Metropolitan, $35 (608p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7460-4
Open Ebook - 608 pages - 978-1-4299-9724-9
Paperback - 575 pages - 978-1-250-00252-5
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All most people know of the Crimean War is the charge of the Light Brigade, but this war was both global and modern, insists noted historian and University of London professor Figes (The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia) in his magnificent account. It was fought with industrial technology, railways, and steamships; 750,000 soldiers and uncounted numbers of civilians died. After an 1853 religious dispute with Ottoman leaders, Russian armies invaded a disputed area in present-day Romania. Longstanding anti-Russian anger in both Britain and Turkey boiled over into war. French opinion was less enthusiastic, but Napoleon III yearned for military glory. Although Russia soon retreated, Britain's cabinet wanted to inflict serious damage. The result was the massive 1854 British-French Crimean invasion. But the armies dawdled, resulting in a costly siege, bloody battles, and 18 months of legendary heroism and incompetence ending in a treaty that only temporarily restrained Russian advances and the Ottoman Empire's decline. Using French, Russian, and Ottoman as well as British sources, Figes has written a lucid, thoroughly satisfying, definitive history. 16 pages of b&w photos; 19 b&w photos throughout; maps. (Apr.)
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