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on 18 August 2017
Don't know how else to report this, but the Richard Holmes profile and page link on this page is a diffeerent Richard Holmes.
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on 26 April 2017
This is a great factual history of the Soldier
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on 16 January 2015
I wish this author had been around when I was being educted, This book puts you in no doubt of what war is & what it took to go over the top
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on 5 July 2017
Very intersting story of the ordinary soldier.
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on 29 August 2012
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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on 15 October 2011
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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on 13 March 2013
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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on 20 September 2011
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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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. But he was much more than that; as Brigadier Holmes CBE, he served from private to brigadier in Britain's reserve forces, which he commanded in the late 1990s. In retirement, he was Honorary Colonel of the Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment (PWRR), whose dramatic 2004 tour in Iraq, resulting in Johnson Beharry's VC, he described memorably in Dusty Warriors (2006). Additionally, as a Justice of the Peace (part-time magistrate), Holmes occasionally had to lock-up wayward soldiers. Few, therefore, have been better qualified to write objectively on the British soldier than Holmes with these awesome credentials.
Drawing on his earlier writing about battlefields or men in and out of combat (Firing Line, 1986), and his biographies of Oliver Comwell (2002), the Dukes of Marlborough (2008) and Wellington (2002), Field Marshal Sir John French (1981) and Winston Churchill (2005), Holmes takes us through the origins of the rank structures, the uniforms and the history of the land force.
Most chapters are a self-contained delight of anecdotes and hard analysis, each a miniature doctorate, for dipping into over a quiet afternoon or evening. Examining the regulars and reserves (from the early militias to today's Territorial Army), 'Soldiers' then moves us on by way of boy soldiers, conscripts, foreign levies (like the King's German Legion or the Gurkhas) and women soldiers, to look at 'Tribes and Totems', his overview of military custom, tradition and martial music, from the happy and moving to the ugliness of punishment and execution. We finish with soldiers' habitats - from being quartered in Georgian pubs to Victorian barrack blocks and Edwardian messes - even soldiers' wives (or partners in today's world) make their presence felt.
Four points will strike the reader about 'Soldiers'.
First, no matter how well you thought you knew your military history (and I count myself a serious student), Holmes unearthed plenty of new material, which he deployed to good effect: even recent academic research at universities around the world is included in the mix.
Second, Holmes could WRITE. Though 600 pages long, this is NOT a dense book, or a difficult read. His prose sparkles on every page; there is wit aplenty, puns, and you can certainly hear echoes of the Professor who entertained the nation for many years with his 'War Walks' and other TV series. This is a man who enjoyed communicating and wrote to a very high standard indeed.
Third is the sheer range of historical examples his uses, from the Restoration period to the present day. And 'Soldiers' is very current: he discusses the merits of women soldiers in combat, the arrival of gay soldiers, and analyses the regimental amalgamations, mergers and disbandments of recent years that caused so much anguish in Scotland and elsewhere. His source material comes from old diaries, letters, memoires and newspapers, but also interviews and current internet chatrooms and blogs.
Finally, for those familiar with Holmes' other work, this is NOT a rehash of his writing to date. This book is a feast, and value for money. Writing against the clock, aware of an impending appointment with the Grim Reaper, Richard Holmes had given us a superb valedictory, an important interpretation of his own life's work and a fitting climax to his career of watching and understanding the British soldier, as no other.
Dr Peter Caddick-Adams, Cranfield University.
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on 24 January 2013
While the book is incredibly long, there is very little I can qrite about it, at least with authority. As a reader with just superficial knowledge of the subject I can say that I found Richard Holmes' book both highly informative and highly enjoyable. Sure, there are some tedious parts, that could benefit from editing, but their presence is understandable due to the author's sudden death, which obviously prevented him from applying the finishing touches.

I bought 'Soldiers' as a historian whose field of interest just marginally overlaps with the book. I am very satisfied with the purchase. It covers a wide range of what one may call the social history of the British Army. You will learn about the punishments and penalties to which the soldiers could be subjected, about the political involvement of the army, the evolution of ranks and many, many more.
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