Victoria's Wars : The Rise of Empire Paperback
by Saul David
In "Victoria's Wars: The Rise of Empire" Saul David explores the early part of Queen Victoria's reign, when the British Empire was well on the way to becoming the greatest empire the world had ever seen.
This is the story of how it happened and the people who made it happen.
In a fast-moving narrative ranging from London to the harsh terrain of India, Russia and the Far East, Saul David shows how Britain ruthlessly exploited her position as the world's only superpower to expand her empire.
Yet little of this territorial acquisition was planned or sanctioned by the home government.
Instead it was largely the work of the men on the ground, and to those at home it really did seem that the empire was acquired in a 'fit of absence of mind'.
Saul David creates a vivid portrait of life on the violent fringes of empire, and of the seemingly endless and brutal wars that were fought in the name of trade, civilization and the balance of power. "Splendid ...a terrific treasure-chest of anecdotes ...a splendidly brisk, cool and judicious narrator". ("Daily Telegraph"). "Incisive and acute ...thorough and occasionally revelatory, [David] always finds a telling phrase, an eye-catching detail or a human story". ("Sunday Times"). Saul David is Professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham and the author of several critically acclaimed history books, including "The Indian Mutiny: 1857" (shortlisted for the Westminster Medal for Military Literature), "Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879" (a Waterstone's Military History Book of the Year) and, most recently, "Victoria's Wars: The Rise of Empire".
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages, 24pp b&w inset
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 29/03/2007
- Category: British & Irish history
- ISBN: 9780141005553
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Review by CSL
This book took far longer to get through that I had hoped - not because its particularly dense or long, but I just got off it several times. Anyways...Victoria's War: The Rise of Empire is a pretty self explanatory book. Written by Saul David, a somewhat noted historian of Victorian era imperialistic adventures its a chronicle of the first twenty or so years of Victoria's reign when Prince Albert was still alive. David looks at several conflicts including Afghanistan, the Sikh Wars, the Crimea, the Indian Mutiny, and the Opium Wars. They are relatively well written and get the main standard chronicles in which is all I was really looking for when I grabbed this in London. Probably the best part of the book comes early on when David discusses the First Afghan War, which due to the countries current importance, I found really interesting. Moreover, throughout the interest personalities of the various military commanders keeps things more interesting than they might have been otherwise - such as Lord Raglan, Lord Elgin, and a few others. My only major gripe in this instance is the comparative lack of analysis from the opposing side. It comes across well enough in the Afghan and Indian Mutiny chapters, but otherwise isn't done as well as it should probably be.Last little worry I had was again, a lack of maps. David does include some good ones, but their quality varies highly - some of the maps are clearly lifted from older accounts and generally decrease in quantity as the book goes on. **** out of *****