Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: Queen Victoria's Little Wars

Well, I have finally finished a book after having been stumbling around reading four different ones over the period of the move from Fort Sill to Fort Drum. And this one is a recent purchase I saw at Borders about a week ago. So here we go.

Queen Victoria's Little Wars was first released in 1972. Written by Byron Farwell, it is about the various conflicts, expeditions and outright wars fought during the reign of Queen Victoria starting in 1837 and going up to 1900 when she died. Quite a lot of area to cover historically speaking.

First off, this book is considered a classic by many history and war buffs. It gives a pretty fair listing of and short run downs of the whole expansion of the British Empire and how its politics changed. It hits on how the Empire actually did expand, the politics behind it and how they shaped and pushed things. And often as not, how the guys on the ground did stuff that was opposite of what the guys in charge (but back in England) wanted, but once done couldn't be undone. Pretty much how most Empires happen really.

It was a great read, but for me that was all it was. Due to the size of the topic, it couldn't give more than a short chapter to many huge topics (The Second Boer War was only one chapter as an example, and the Indian Mutiny was three). If you were looking for huge amounts of detail and information, this book isn't for you. If you are looking for a starting point, this is a good one. I did learn a lot about conflicts I knew nothing about or very little, but I knew much more about the Boer War and Zulu War than was presented.

I also need to add that this book had two great features going for it that makes it worthy of reading. The first was the bibiliography that was included. The author pulled from a HUGE amount of sources, so if you want to learn more about one fight or war, you have the prefect list to work off of and he linked it to each conflict so instead of having to hunt down books throughout the whole list, it was already done. Second was the list of medals and the appendix dealing with the British Army Regimental system. If you have never dealt with the British system, the regiment can be a difficult thing to understand. This appendix (read it first before the book) is a great source of info and explains a lot. It also includes an explanation of all the medals given out so you can figure out what all the "VC, DCO, SRC, etc" mean in terms of who did what when.

I recommend this book, I enjoyed it.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. Farwell's stuff is really excellent on the whole. I'd highly recommend Eminent Victorian Soldiers and his Boer War book. This book is more an "Empire's greatest hits" collection than a comprehensive history, but a good starting point for further research.