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Description - Warrior Race by Lawrence James

Modern Britain is a nation shaped by wars. The boundaries of its separate parts are the outcome of conquest and resistance. The essence of its identity are the warrior heroes, both real and imagined, who still capture the national imagination; from Boudicca to King Arthur, William Wallace to Henry V, the Duke of Wellington to Winston Churchill. In WARRIOR RACE, Lawrence James investigates the role played by war in the making of Britain. Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological research, as well as numerous unfamiliar and untapped resources, he charts the full reach of British military history: the physical and psychological impact of Roman military occupation; the monarchy's struggle for mastery of the British Isles; the civil wars of the seventeenth century; the 'total war' experience of twentieth century conflict. WARRIOR RACE is popular history at its very best: immaculately researched and hugely readable. Balancing the broad sweep of history with an acute attention to detail, Lawrence James never loses sight of this most fascinating and enduring of subjects: the question of British national identity and character.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349114866
ISBN-10: 0349114862
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 126mm x 55mm)
Pages: 880
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 5-Sep-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Warrior Race by Lawrence James

Book Reviews - Warrior Race by Lawrence James

UK Kirkus Review » This is an overview of the history of the British Isles that lays stress on how much it has been affected by war - which, after all, Aristotle defined as the natural occupation of man. The balance between the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish is well maintained, and James writes clearly and with assurance. He brings out how fierce life was, even till quite recent times, in England, let alone Ireland, and instances the frequent spectacles of savagery - public executions were the norm until 1868. He goes back to the Roman occupation, from the first to the fifth century - again, a violent business, meeting violent resistance; and goes forward through many campaigns to the recent struggles in the Falklands, the Persian Gulf and the Balkans. What he writes is thoroughly relevant to the present day, because it shows how the present is always affected by the past. He avoids military jargon and direct accounts of battles, though he recounts many deeds of heroism and cowardice by individuals, and looks at the navy's and the air force's ways of war as well as the army's. Much of his book covers the two world wars, which brought something of the reality of war into every home: many cities, London above all, found themselves in the front line in the winter of 1940-41. There is not much here about politicians, or strategy, or military intelligence; but there is a lot about what it feels like to bear arms, to be frightened, and to go on fighting all the same. He explains too the impact on society of fighting men who have survived wars, and gone back home, carrying some of their habitual violence into industrial strife. He is sound on the growth of weaponry, and how it affects battle; sound too on the growth of communications, which makes armed forces more easy to administer and to move about. This is a long, valuable, ingenious book, well worth reading and remembering. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A bloated commemoration of the Thin Red Line over centuries of valorous-and sometimes not-so-valorous-service to the Empire. British history was made in battle, observes English historian James (The Golden Warrior, 1993, etc.), none too originally. Some of those battles (Bannockburn, Rorke's Drift) are little remembered today except by specialists. Others (Hastings, Yorktown, Tobruk, Second Marne) are better known though subject to cultural amnesia. James revisits these fields of war as he traces the development of the modern, professional British army, which, he suggests, shares the pluck of its forebears and "a peculiar British capacity not to be deterred by overwhelming odds." Some of James's evidence runs counter to such claims, he admits; unimpressed Vikings and Normans considered their foes to be "country bumpkins and mercenaries," and in days of old it was possible to buy one's way into command, as did Lords Lucan and Cardigan of Charge of the Light Brigade infamy. James makes good use of primary sources, especially with respect to WWII; in one combat account a particularly plucky Tommy remarks, "Darting about among rocks dodging bullets was at the time quite good fun and quite unreal-like some Wild Western picture." Similarly, the author has a practiced eye for the telling anecdote, whether writing of British officers who refused to surrender their dinner forks when a meal was interrupted by sniper fire or of ordinary soldiers in the trenches of WWI who considered themselves to be "lions led by donkeys." Still, a little of this goes a long way, and James takes a long trudge indeed through mud and gore. Nor is the narrative improved by its vein of Tory bluster, as when the author trumpets, "the liberation of the Falklands was a sign that Britain was no longer a country to which things happened, but that could make them happen." Solid enough, but cursory, providing little that cannot be found in standard histories. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Lawrence James

Lawrence James studied History and English at York University and subsequently undertook a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. Following a career as a teacher, he became a full-time writer in 1985.

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