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British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea
     

British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea

by Scott Myerly
 

In the theater of war, how important is costume? And in peacetime, what purpose does military spectacle serve? This book takes us behind the scenes of the British military at the height of its brilliance to show us how dress and discipline helped to mold the military man and attempted to seduce the hearts and minds of a nation while serving to intimidate civil

Overview

In the theater of war, how important is costume? And in peacetime, what purpose does military spectacle serve? This book takes us behind the scenes of the British military at the height of its brilliance to show us how dress and discipline helped to mold the military man and attempted to seduce the hearts and minds of a nation while serving to intimidate civil rioters in peacetime.

Often ridiculed for their constrictive splendor, British army uniforms of the early nineteenth century nonetheless played a powerful role in the troops' performance on campaign, in battle, and as dramatic entertainment in peacetime. Plumbing a wide variety of military sources, most tellingly the memoirs and letters of soldiers and civilians, Scott Hughes Myerly reveals how these ornate sartorial creations, combining symbols of solidarity and inspiration, vivid color, and physical restraint, enhanced the managerial effects of rigid discipline, drill, and torturous punishments, but also helped foster regimental esprit de corps.

Encouraging recruitment, enforcing discipline within the military, and boosting morale were essential but not the only functions of martial dress. Myerly also explores the role of the resplendent uniform and its associated gaudy trappings and customs during civil peace and disorder--whether employed as public relations through spectacular free entertainment, or imitated by rioters and rebels opposing the status quo. Dress, drills, parades, inspections, pomp, and order: as this richly illustrated book conducts us through the details of the creation, design, functions, and meaning of these aspects of the martial image, it exposes the underpinnings of amentality--and vision--that extends far beyond the military subculture into the civic and social order that we call modernity.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The British Army is well known for its pomp and pageantry, color and precision drill. Nowhere in its history is this more evident than the period from 1800 to 1857, when the army was at its pinnacle and almost continuously engaged in one campaign or another. This is the first book to take an in-depth look at the purpose and importance of military costume and spectacle in time of war and peace. Myerly (history, Minot State Univ., North Dakota) shows how dress and discipline mold the soldier and at the same time win over the civilian population through the use of the military review. The author makes a valid point by showing the beginnings of the machine age through the managerial effects of rigid discipline and drill. Recommended for all collections.David Lee Poremba, Detroit P.L.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674082496
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
11/28/1996
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.65(w) x 9.54(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

Scott Hughes Myerly is a cultural and military historian.

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