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Three books on 'forgotten wars' collected in one
on 1 August 2013
Note: I only own one of the original three books, Blood in the Sand: More Forgotten Wars of the 19th Century; the notes here I believe are correct. This volume (2003) is stated to collect three earlier books by Hernon, including 'Blood in the Sand'; judging by the number of pages, this claim is correct.
Five stars for effort: literally 19th century (1803 to 1898, I think), possibly based on Annual Registers which appear to to be official British publications. Other sources include The Times, some HMSO reports, and, mostly, books, some of them fairly contemporary, but mostly recent. 'Punch' (1841 onward) is NOT included.
In this volume we have the Gurkha War (1814-16), Borneo Pirates, Madagascar, two Sikh Wars (1845 .. 1849), Eureka Stockade in Australia during the gold rush, Kars, in Turkey, 1855, the Fenian Invasion of Canada, 1866; Orange Walk in Belize (which made it 'British') 1872, and Sierra Leone's Hut Tax War 1898.
As far as I can work out (I only own one of these books) two of Hernon's other books (written within two or three years of each other) look at Kandy War (1803-5), the tiny Falklands 1833 events, Jamaica Rebellion (1865), Ceylon, the Maoris, and others, and the opium wars, Zanzibar shelling. extermination of the Tasmanians, Benin massacres, and others.
There are 'Illustrated London News' engravings, photos, portraits, and so on. Hernon also wrote a pictorial history of Victorian wars.
'.. there was not a single month of that [nineteenth] century when British forces were not engaged somewhere across the globe.'
Hernon explicitly states he's writing in a journalistic mode, and the descriptions he gives certainly sound exactly as the places and events must have seemed at the time, including the slaughter-house aspects, and the individual psychology aspects. His selection of subjects relegates big wars to noises off - several of his pieces deal with side-issues to the US Civil War, for example; Crimean War ditto; Afghan Wars ditto. Non-British material barely appears - Belgian Congo atrocities, the French Empire, and so on. I believe the 'Boxer Rebellion' may not be included; the Boer War appears to be excluded because it was large, and just out of the time range. Hernon gives detailed descriptions and reasonably fair treatment, though perhaps he's a bit too neutral. I'd have liked more on the string-pullers - weapons suppliers, money, news agencies and so on - and trade connections such as Rothschilds and opium. All the subjects are now dead, of course, but no doubt we can try to empathise and understand.