Most helpful positive review
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, engaging and full of trivia
on 25 February 2007
In response to the other review posted of this book,you are just plain wrong! Richard Holmes has once again excelled himself with a truly compulsive history that provides some excellent elaboration on the contents of his earlier works "Redcoat" and "Wellington". Admittedly the first 90 or so pages which outline the background of the British in India and Afghanistan are pretty hard work but once you get past those this book is a treasure trove of rarely discussed historical nuggets. There are excellent descriptions of the joys of "pig-sticking", the British sport of choice, the (usually brutal) punishments meted out to recalcitrant soldiers, and just as you expect the book to be winding down there are excellent closing chapters on sanitation, prostitution and the bizarre matrimonial escapades of the soldiers and officers. Some geo-political background is necessary, for example,to understand the differences between British Army troops, East India Company troops and privateers but in the main this book gives an excellent "ground-level" view of 18th & 19th century soldiering.