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With maps and contemporary photographs, this vivid and important account sheds new light on this human story.

The Crimean War is full of resonance - not least, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Siege of Sevastopol and Florence Nightingale at Scutari with her lamp. In this fascinating book, Clive Ponting separates the myths from the reality, and tells the true story of the heroism of the ordinary soldiers, often through eye-witness accounts of the men who fought and those who survived the terrible winter of 1854-55.

To contemporaries, it was 'The Great War with Russia' - fought not only in the Black Sea and the Crimea but in the Baltic, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Caucasus. Ironically, Britain's allies were France, her traditional enemy, ably commanded (from home) by Napoleon III himself, and the Muslim Ottoman Empire, widely seen as an infidel corrupt power. It was the first of the 'modern' wars, using rifles, artillery, trench systems, steam battleships, telegraph and railways; yet the British soldiers wore their old highly coloured uniforms and took part in their last cavalry charge in Europe. There were over 650,000 casualties.

Britain was unable fully to deploy her greatest strength, her Navy, while her Army was led by incompetent aristocrats. The views of ordinary soldiers about Raglan, Cardigan and Lucan make painful reading.


Lucid and comprehensive-a vivid essay on wartime blunders and the post-war bluster that tried to hide them

Charles King, Times Literary Supplement

Exhaustively researched and scholarly-an exciting story and one that benefits from accounts written at the time by various soldiers and observers

Beryl Bainbridge, Guardian

Between these covers you will find a wholly unpretentious, terrifyingly honest breakdown of a war-exceptionally harrowing and impossible to put down

Mick Middles, Manchester Evening News

Ponting is both incisive and original in his account of what contemporaries called the "Russian War"

Michael Kerrigan, Scotsman

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Formats & editions

  • EBook


    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    416 pages

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  • The Crimean War
    Clive Ponting



    January 2, 2006


    416 pages

    RRP $34.99

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