Warrior Race: A History of the British at War

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9780312307370: Warrior Race: A History of the British at War
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Modern Britain is a nation shaped by wars. The boundaries of its separate parts are the outcome of conquest and resistance. The essence of its identity are the warrior heroes, both real and imagined, who still capture the national imagination: from Boadicea to King Arthur, Rob Roy to Henry V, the Duke of Wellington to Winston Churchill. It is a sense of identity that grew under careful cultivation during the global struggles of the eighteenth century, and found its most powerful expression during the world wars of the twentieth.

In Warrior Race, Lawrence James investigates the role played by war in the making of Britain. Drawing on the latest historical and archaeological research, as well as numerous unfamiliar and untapped resources, he charts the full reach of British military history: the physical and psychological impact of Roman military occupation; the monarchyâ s struggle for mastery of the British Isles; the civil wars of the seventeenth century; the â total warâ experience of twentieth-century conflict.

But Warrior Race is more than just a compelling historical narrative. Lawrence James skillfully pulls together the momentous themes of his subject. He discusses how war has continually been a catalyst for social and political change, the rise, survival, and reinvention of chivalry, the literary quest for a British epic, the concept of birth and breeding as the qualifications for command in war, and the issues of patriotism and Britainâ s antiwar tradition.
Warrior Race is popular history at its very best: incisive, informative, and accessible; immaculately researched and hugely readable. Balancing the broad sweep of history with an acute attention to detail, Lawrence James never loses sight of this most fascinating and enduring of subjects: the question of British national identity and character.

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About the Author:

Lawrence James was born in Bath and was educated at the University of York and Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career, he emerged as one of the outstanding narrative historians of this generation. His previous books include Raj and The Rise and Fall of the British Empire. He lives near St. Andrews, Scotland.

From Publishers Weekly:

This imposing history of is less a recounting of British feats of arms than of the creation of a British nation by the wars in the British Isles-England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Beginning with the Roman conquest, James (The Rise and Fall of the British Empire) proceeds through the Anglo-Saxons and Normans into the Middle Ages, and then marches through the civil wars, the continental wars from 1689 through 1815 and the colonial conflicts (mostly won, except for the American Revolution). The entire second half of the book covers the two world wars and their aftermath, where the United Kingdom assembled in the first half of the book exhausted itself (though not without valuable results) in two global conflicts and the twilight of empire. While a valuable summation throughout, the real splendor of the book is in its illustrative examples of the context in which the fighting men (and eventually women) were raised, and the impact of their experiences on the larger culture. Consider that a medieval knight's warhorse cost far more than his armor, that the author's mother-in-law had rationing brought home to her by bloaters (a fish) for breakfast and that residual patriotism accounts for the current seller's market in works on the Special Air Service. Less charming are the tragedy of Anglo-Irish relations and the outrageous racism of Allied soldiers in England during WWII. The book's comparative emphasis on ground forces will rankle those who believe, justly, that it was the Royal Navy (and later the Royal Air Force) that transformed the nature of British military power. While not for people who insist on narrative and not for beginners on the subject, this big book will be worthwhile for everybody else with an interest in history.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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