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Horse Guards [Unabridged] [Hardcover]

Barney White-Spunner CBE
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Oct 2006

This is the first major history of the Household Cavalry, which consists of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals - the three oldest and most senior regiments in the British Army. As such they were, and continue today to be the most senior regiments in the Army. Created at the beginning of Charles II's restoration but with an organisation based on Cromwell's Ironsides, they were to be an integral part, not only of of the coming decades but of the British Isles' continuing history.

Illustrated in full colour throughout with exclusive period paintings, objects and maps, from the Household Cavalry's archives and museum, many never before published, this book takes the reader on a 350-year historical narrative from Cromwell and the English Civil Wars, James II and the Battle of Sedgemoor, through Wellington and Waterloo, and Victoria and the Boer Wars right through to Churchill and the Second World War - some of the most important military episodes in our history.

A unique book about a unique British institution.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition edition (20 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140505574X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405055741
  • Product Dimensions: 26.4 x 19.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'A lavishly produced illustrated history of the oldest regiments
in the British Army...splendid history' -- Independent on Sunday

'A remarkable command performance...a rigorously researched,
exquisitely written, 600-page regimental history'
-- Chris Horrocks, Soldier

'This is a rich and colourful adventure story' -- Oxford Times

'This must be one of the most impressive feats of scholarship to
be published this year' -- The Field

'This must be one of the most impressive feats of scholarship to
be published this year...beautifully illustrated' -- The Field

From the Publisher

It's rare these days for a major history title to have so much primary material as this book does. Most archives have been raked over by historians for years. However, Major General Barney White-Spunner has done a terrific job delving into the archives of the Household Cavlry museums in both London and Windsor, which seem to have not have been researched by many historians previously. The result is a book that is replete with first-hand accounts by men who actually fought in some of the most important military campaigns in our history. The descriptions of Waterloo and it's aftermath given by the men who lived through it are extraordinary. Even more fascinating is the insight into the daily lives of the men, their families and, of course, their horses. Moreover, much of the illustrated material is unique to this book, having never been reproduced elsewhere.

All in all, I believe this is something of a landmark publication.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex tale engagingly told 18 Oct 2006
Regiments are, in many ways, like families and this book is as much a biography as a history. However, unlike a typical biography that examines the life & times of one person, "Horse Guards" recounts not one but four parallel "family" histories over a period of 350 years.

Given that, during those 350 years, the two Regiments of Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards and The Royals fought in many of the same campaigns and shared many of the same duties, this must have posed General White-Spunner with the problem of how to narrate these four stories without endlessly covering the same historical ground. That he has been able to do this without repetition is a triumph.

In addition to this, General White-Spunner has pulled off another significant literary achievement in turning dry historical and military facts into a compelling narrative that bowls along at a spanking pace. The book is full of quirky stories that amuse as well as inform: the transvestite Colonel of The Royals who went on to be an unpopular Governor of New York and was immortalised in a painting depicting him in drag; how, in 18th Century campaigns, there was an official allocation of soldiers wives who accompanied the troops and performed their uxorial duties on a communal basis; the tales of life in a mid-19th Century Cavalry barracks where lavatory paper was issued on the basis of one sheet per soldier every four days; and Queen Alexandra's lobbying to get a Boer war campaign medal for Freddy, the only Life Guards horse to return from the war. These, and many more stories, leaven a tale that would otherwise be strictly for the military history wonks.

If you enjoy "Flashman", you will certainly enjoy "Horse Guards".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT ADDITION TO LIBRARY 5 Dec 2011
Excellent book. I would've liked to have seen more about the contemporary role of Horse Guards and more photos. Still well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing story, well told and well illustrated 13 May 2011
I've just finished reading Spunner-White's magnificent history of the Horse Guards. It was clearly a labour of love for the author and an enjoyable and thorough regimental history.

Its covers the formation and changing story of the four regiments that now comprise the Household Cavalry. Presenting battles, politics and characters in a comprehensive, yet easy to follow, way. It places the regiments' development in their historical contexts and brings to light many of the amazing individuals. This I think the key to its effectiveness as a history, by highlighting the good, the bad, the inept, the brilliant, the cowardly, but mainly, the heroic, people involved.

There are no lengthy orders of battle or extensive appendices that are found in some histories, but that doesn't detract in anyway. Still I felt that coverage of the post-WWII conflicts a bit too brief and would have liked to have extra detail in this section.

Overall it's a marvellously presented book, with many original and unusual illustrations and, for once, decent and clear maps. Actually if there can be one criticism it's that the book is printed on a very heavy paper, as such it's perhaps too weighty a tome to read comfortably.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book 25 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Was delighted to come across this book as it made an ideal present for someone who used to be in the Horse Guards.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another one of those Great Regimental History Books from the UK 3 Aug 2008
By David D. Lawson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Words fail me about this book. In that it is one of the best books about the Cavalry Regiments of the British Household Guard Regiments that I have seen so far. If ones wants to learn about The Life Guards and The Blues Regiments and their service to the Crown for the past 300 plus years in the field or at Whitehall. Than one could do a lot worse than not to buy this book. It is very well written, organized and lavishly illustrated with a lot at least for me unseen before pictures. Altogether its a "Good to Go!".
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