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A Good Book Covering Some of Victoria's Wars
on 25 March 2010
This is an interesting and well written book, but it is not quite what it seems, unless you pay great attention to the sub-title, 'Rise of Empire'. That is to say that the book does not cover by any means Victoria's wars but only those wars that took place prior to the death of Prince Albert on 14th December 1861. This necessarily means that all the wars involving Africa, including the Zulu War of 1879 and the Boer War of 1899, are excluded.
The main campaigns that are covered by this book are the Afghan Wars, the later Indian wars of conquest and the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the wars in Burma and Siam, and the Crimean and Opium Wars. The Crimean War of 1854 to 56 is particularly well dealt with and I do not think that I have read a clearer account of how the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava came to take place.
The author explains the background to the various campaigns very well. These are dealt with in chronological order. He describes the reasons for the action taken, and also keeps us well acquainted with the political pressures on the ministers of the time and the frequent changes of government. Having established the background the author then expertly sketches in the characteristics of the leading figures on both sides and often gives us detailed and graphic descriptions of the key moments in the battles or assaults.
David regularly relates the relationship of the various prime ministers and their foreign policy to the views of Victoria and Albert, Albert being no mere cipher in this field.
The book is well constructed and contains some interesting illustrations, line maps and a useful timeline of events.