Death or Glory by Robert B. Edgerton
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Death or Glory
By Robert B. Edgerton

Death or Glory

The Legacy of the Crimean War

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Format: Paperback

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Death or Glory by Robert B. Edgerton

Book Description

In 1853, the Crimean War began as an intensely romantic affair, with officers and soldiers alike taking to the fray with phrases like "death or glory" on their tongues and in their hearts. Nothing stands out more starkly than the toughness of the soldiers who fought so savagely, seldom complained, and only rarely collapsed under war's terrible and relentless stresses. Acts of astonishing bravery, many of them by doctors, women, and children, were commonplace. But so was callousness and brutality. The war soon became an impersonal, long-range killing match that resembled, far in advance, the trench warfare of World War I. It became a showcase for bad generalship and bureaucratic bungling. Men, women, and children died of hunger, cold, and disease many times more often than they were killed by rifles or the most massive artillery barrages the world have ever seen.Death or Glory is not a mere battle chronology; rather, it is a narrative immersion into conditions during what became arguably the most tragically botched military campaign, from all sides, in modern European history--and the most immediate precedent to the American Civil War. Edgerton paints a vivid picture of the war, from the Charge of the Light Brigade and the heroics of Florence Nightingale to the British soldiers who, simply unable to take the misery, starvation, and cholera any longer, took their own lives. He describes how leaders failed their men again and again; how women and children became unseen heroes; how the universally despised Turks fought their own war; and, finally and perhaps most importantly, why so many fought so bravely in what seemed a futile cause. By comparing these experiences with those of Northern and Southern soldiers during the more well-documented American Civil War, Edgerton contributes a new perspective on how soldiers in the mid-19th century experienced war, death, and glory.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780813337890
ISBN-10: 0813337895
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 17mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Westview Press Inc
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Publish Date: 28-Apr-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions...

Books By Author Robert B. Edgerton

Companion to Psychological Anthropology by Robert B. Edgerton Companion to Psychological Anthropology, Paperback (September 2007)

This Companion provides the first definitive overview of psycho-cultural anthropology: a subject that focuses on cultural, psychological, and social interrelations across cultures.

Africa's Armies by Robert B. Edgerton Africa's Armies, Paperback (October 2004)

The history of Africa's armies, from the heroic units of the pre-colonial and colonial eras to the corrupt and inglorious forces of the years following independence

Hidden Heroism by Robert B. Edgerton Hidden Heroism, Paperback (October 2002)

An accessible and well-informed tour through a little-known, important aspect of race in American history

Warriors of the Rising Sun by Robert B. Edgerton Warriors of the Rising Sun, Paperback (December 1998)

Traces the Japanese military's evolution from chivalrous soldiers to a brutal killers.

» View all books by Robert B. Edgerton


US Kirkus Review » A messy book about a messy war. Edgerton (Anthropology and Psychiatry/UCLA School of Medicine) has written histories of the Zulu, the Ashanti, and the Japanese - perhaps not the best background for a social history of the Crimean War (1853-56). The author correctly points out that this conflict between Russia and the Allies (Britain, France, Turkey, and Sardinia) was the most widespread armed engagement in Europe during the century 1815-1914. He also accurately notes that the Crimean War intensified warfare with the introduction of new technologies, including the railroad, the telegraph, newspaper coverage, innovative rifles, exploding shells, battle steamships, trench warfare, and better techniques in hospital care. Certainly no one would argue with his contention that the majority of deaths were due to sickness and disease. However, that's about all Edgerton gets right. He commits frequent errors of historical fact on the order of claiming "over 1 million" deaths in a war whose casualties are usually estimated from 500,000 to 800,000. More thematic problems include his attempt to claim Crimea as the most horrific conflict in modern history (despite two subsequent and bloody world wars) by excessively focusing on soldiers' battlefield cruelty and drunken debauchery - behavior hardly unique to Crimea - as well as such other wartime perennials as vermin, disease, and prostitution. The text is repetitive and poorly organized. And as for Edgerton's summation of a conflict that caused the breakdown of the Concert of Europe, ended a European peace that had lasted almost 40 years, led to four wars altering the balance of power, and prolonged a decaying Ottoman Empire, all with dire future results: the ostensibly anthropological insight that "everyone involved in it responded in much the same ways" because they were "all equally human" just doesn't cut it. This account has little of worth to contribute to Crimean War studies. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Robert B. Edgerton

Robert B. Edgerton is the author of more than twenty other books on a variety of sociological, anthropological, and historical topics, most recently Hidden Heroism (Westview 2001). He also teaches anthropology at the UCLA School of Medicine.

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