The Last Duel: A True Story of Death and Honour

James Landale, Author . Canongate $24 (304p) ISBN 978-1-84195-825-5

Armed with a wealth of primary sources, BBC correspondent Landale serves up an interesting history of the last recorded fatal duel in Scotland between his ancestor David Landale, a prosperous linen merchant, and Landale's one-time banker, George Morgan, on August 23, 1826. In a small town on Scotland's southeastern coast suffering an economic crisis following the Napoleonic wars, Morgan was a social-climbing, violent ex-soldier who refused Landale credit, and when his client took his business elsewhere, Morgan spread devastating rumors about him. Landale complained to Morgan's bosses at the Bank of Scotland, which led to the measured businessman challenging Morgan to a duel after being struck by the bullying banker with an umbrella on the street. Morgan was killed, and Landale was eventually acquitted at trial. His reputation and business were duly restored, and his daughter married Morgan's nephew. As the author perceptively traces the history of dueling from its origins in the Middle Ages, he entertains with a host of anecdotes and colorful characters, from a couple of eccentrics who dueled over a dancer while floating over Paris in separate balloons, to a pair of ladies in a "petticoat duel" fighting over the rights to a duke's bed. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 05/22/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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