cover image Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856

Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856

Trevor Royle. St. Martin's Press, $55 (596pp) ISBN 978-0-312-23079-1

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)