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Soldiers: Army Lives and Loyalties from Redcoats to Dusty Warriors Paperback – 27 Sep 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (27 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007225709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007225705
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 5.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘If any of his many works of military history should stand as a memorial to his work and achievement, this last most lively book might well be the most fitting’ The Times

‘A book of majestic, heart-rending humanity: a deeply affectionate portrait of British soldiers as they have existed for more than 350 years’ Daily Telegraph

‘Almost every page is adorned with a fascinating fact or amusing vignette . . . illuminating just how much, and how little, the Army has changed over the centuries. Holmes was a first-rate military historian and his passion for his subject shines through. “That article” [the British Tommy] could not hope for a finer champion.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Stirring and magnificent . . . covers every aspect of army life you can think of, and many you wouldn’t have’ Sunday Times

“Holmes’s thematic panorama glitters with fascinating detail” Independent

About the Author

Richard Holmes was one of Britain’s most distinguished and eminent military historians and broadcasters. For many years Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science, he also taught military history at Sandhurst. He was the author of many best-selling and widely acclaimed books including Redcoat, Tommy, Marlborough and Wellington, and famous for his BBC series such as War Walks, In the Footsteps of Churchill and Wellington. He served in the Territorial Army, retiring as a brigadier and Britain’s most senior reservist, and was Colonel of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment from 1999 to 2007. Richard Holmes died suddenly in April 2011 from pneumonia. He had been suffering from non-Hodgkins’ Lymphoma.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Professor Richard Holmes left us prematurely at the end of April 2011, he had - as he put it - several books in 'holding pattern' that he was trying to complete. I gather now (from his wife's Acknowledgements on the final pages) that he knew his days were numbered and therefore put his remaining energy into 'Soldiers: Army Lives and Loyalties From Redcoats to Dusty Warriors'.
We should be enormously grateful that he did, as he literally wrote from his sick bed, and 'was allowed out of hospital twice by his cancer specialist to work on the book', which (one suspects) contributed to his early death. One needs to remember this when reading 'Soldiers', for it does admittedly contain a few irritating repetitions, its structure is occasionally loose, and some chapters are more rounded than others, but these are minor niggles that a medically fit Holmes would no doubt have polished to his customary very high standard.
The volume's sub-title tells us much about the contents, as the 65 year-old Holmes was drawing on his earlier corpus of writing on the British soldier, including his Redcoat (2001), Tommy (2004), Sahib (2005) and Dusty Warriors (2006). The years of publication give an idea of his prodigious output - one and sometimes two very good books in most years, totalling over 35 volumes, written over a 40 year period.
What of 'Soldiers'? This is no less than an expression of Richard Holmes' love affair with the British soldier - Thomas Atkins - warts and all, about whom he spent most of his working life observing and writing. As Professor Holmes, he was an academic lecturer at Sandhurst, the Army Staff College and later the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, teaching officers their trade throughout his adult life.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a thematic study of the British Army, taking in regiments, recruitment, barrack life, army wives and a whole lot more. Holmes tells it all in a similar manner to his other books, especially Tommy and Sahib - he uses anecdotes and stories to get his points across, with lots of interesting snippets and details. There may be the occasional error, though they escaped my attention - the untimely and early death of the author meant that the book went to press largely as he left it, although it was mostly complete. Even so, this is a great summary of the army, and a suitable crowning achievement of the author's career as a military historian.
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Format: Hardcover
As a former soldier in a Highland Regiment, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's written from a soldier's perspective and I found my own experiences resonating with those of who served down the ages.
It's a book for the soldier but will also be enjoyed by those who have connections with the army.
Richard Holmes was a fine historian and a great storyteller and will be sorely missed.
The Oxford Companion to Military History
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Format: Hardcover
I am amazed nobody has reviewed this magnificent book yet. Another great book from the great historian Richard Holmes who sadly passed away only quite recently. This is another treasure to add to your warfare history books section and admire the extensive research undertaken to form this fascinating book. Highly informative, entertaining and a sure way to get to know the British soldier over recent centuries and find out more about their hope and aspiration, and outlook on life and death firsthand.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Holmes truly went out with a bow. This book is his own personal tribute to the British army, its history, its customs, traditions, lore and pageantry, its idiosyncrasies, its present role and its future in this volatile world. It's a book about the men and women who were part of the 350-odd years of history of this remarkable institution. I'll stop here. The book has been extensively reviewed and highly praised and adding my two cents would only overegg the pudding.

It is sad to think there won't be any more books by Richard Holmes who wrote so eloquently and elegantly on the subjects he tackled.
And always firmly in command of these subjects, let us not forget that. He knew his stuff and had very interesting things to say about it. His books are always entertaining, poignant, insightful and contain precisely the right dose of emotion: he could be humorous and sometimes very moving. Never twee, no cheap effects or tricks, no page filling drivel. One took note of his opinions and conclusions which almost always were spot on. Mrs. Holmes and family: I'm sorry for your loss.

It is now almost two years ago that he died, age 65. In this time I sent some 5 or 6 messages to the BBC asking when the television documentaries that Richard Holmes wrote and presented will be released on dvd. I have yet to receive a decent answer other than "dear sir we acknowledge receipt of your message and so on and bladiblah, not our department, maybe in future....etcetera etcetera let us know if you like other programmes..."

Maybe if more of us who enjoy reading professor Holmes' books made known our wish for a dvd release of (preferably all) his television work (War Walks, Wellington, Battlefields, the Western Front, In the footsteps of Churchill) we could achieve something.....just a thought.
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