The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade

The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade

by Cecil Woodham-Smith


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This history is a war story of astonishing courage and honor, of stupidity, of blood, death, agony — and waste.

Nothing in British campaign history has ever equaled the tragic farce that was the charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War's Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854. In this fascinating study, Cecil Woodham-Smith shows that responsibility for the fatal mismanagement of the affair rested with the Earls of Cardigan and Lucan, brothers-in-law and sworn enemies for more than thirty years.

In revealing the combination of pride and obstinacy that was to prove so fatal, Woodham-Smith gives us a picture of a vanished world, in which heroism and military glory guaranteed an immortality impossible in a more cynical age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140012781
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/01/1991
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Cecil Blanche Woodman-Smith was a British historian and author of popular history books on the Victorian era, including The Great Hunger, Queen Victoria, The Reason Why, and Thin Men of Hadda. She was appointed CBE in 1960, and received honorary doctorates from the National University of Ireland and the University of St. Andrews. She died in 1977.

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The Reason Why: The Story of the Fatal Charge of the Light Brigade 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
jcbrunner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two real-life Flashmen before there was Flashman! I don't know if this gem of a book has inspired George MacDonald Fraser, it seems highly likely. This twin biography of the divisional and brigade commanders of the British cavalry at the battle of Balaclava and the originators of the charge of the Light Brigade, Lord Lucan and Lord Cardigan, both epitomes of the decadence and incompetence of the British ruling class of the 19th century that foretold the decline of the Empire, a tale of lions led by donkeys, an insult to the grey animal. One might best call them "compassionate conservatives". Lord Lucan closed the poor houses during the Great Irish Famine, supplying the starving instead with tracts on Adam Smith (who as a professor of moral philosophy would have been horrified by such behavior). Lord Cardigan's speciality, meanwhile, was hounding and court-martialing any competent subordinates. Decisions have to be taken by the Decider, owing his appointment solely to nepotism. His connections shielded him from the consequences of his repeated failures. The two Lords were brothers-in-law but detested each other mightily. Add to this mix an aging Commander-in-Chief and an over-eager staff officer, and your catastrophe in waiting is perfect.On rode the six hundred, into the Russian guns and the history books. You should run too, to get this book. Its a hilarious read that exposes the worst and the stupidest that finally crashed down in the First World War. In an otherwise perfect book, I wish the author to have devoted more space to the other two men responsible for the disaster, Lord Raglan and Captain Nolan. The only positive aspect of the charge was that truly British garment, the Cardigan sweater named after the commander of the Light Brrigade. Highly recommended (the book - not the sweater, nowadays mostly worn by old foggies).