Death or Glory: The Legacy of the Crimean War

Infantry, May-August 1999 | Go to article overview

Death or Glory: The Legacy of the Crimean War


Death or Glory: The Legacy of the Crimean War. By Robert B. Edgerton. Westview Press, 1999. 288 Pages. $30.00. Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel Harold E. Raugh, Jr., U.S. Army, Retired.

The Crimean War of 1853-1856 was the largest and deadliest European conflict fought between the Napoleonic Wars and World War 1. It was notorious for its incompetent and aged leaders, extremely ineffective logistics and medical capabilities, and acts of astonishing bravery and brutality.

Numerous studies, narratives, personal reminiscences, and other accounts have been written about the Crimean War. Author Robert B. Edgerton, professor of anthropology and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has woven together various vignettes and anecdotes from these accounts to try to show how one's culture influences the way war is experienced. The activities, perceptions, and experiences of many of the leading participants-British, French, Turkish, Sardinian, and Russianare highlighted and compared (although somewhat superficially, in some cases) with the experiences of Northern and Southern soldiers during the American Civil War, which began a few years later.

The Crimean War witnessed the introduction of mass-produced rifles, railroads, and steam-driven warships. It was an early conflict that involved relatively modem technology, and as such was a precursor of the American Civil War. …

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