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Download The Reason Why epub

by Cecil Woodham-Smith

Focuses on the aristocratic officers and forces responsible for the nineteenth-century military debacle
Download The Reason Why epub
ISBN: 0689706227
ISBN13: 978-0689706226
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Cecil Woodham-Smith
Language: English
Publisher: Atheneum (November 1, 1982)
ePUB size: 1353 kb
FB2 size: 1743 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 978
Other Formats: lit rtf docx doc

I just ordered this book from Amazon to replace a copy I gave away a few years ago -- gave it to a young high schooler who has a deep love for history. I purchased this book about 1970 with the Doubleday Bargain Book Club, and read it several times. It is an outstanding review of what led to the "Charge of the Light Brigade." This, along with the Custer debacle and the story of "The Lady Be Good" are stories that have long fascinated me. I was so glad to find all the answers in this book. And the answers really show what problems existed with the British system of purchasing officer ranks with no real understanding of military tactics.
Many a historian rate this as a must read book. Written in the early 1900's it is still being published and read to this day. It is the story of the Charge of the Light Birgade. If you are into British History this is a must read. I read the book over 30 years ago when a college friend recommended it. I ordered it on Amazon a year ago to re-read it, then gave it to a friend lived in Scotland and who is into history. He in turn sent it to his son who makes a living playing bagpipes in Colorado. The book gets into the British psychic, and how command was purchased not always deserved. The battles of the Crimean War have amazed scholars and casual readers alike. The book deals with how the British Office thought and carried out orders as well as details on the battles themselves.
"The Reason Why" by Cecil Woodham-Smith and written in 1954 came as a recommendation through a friend of mine who is currently a major in the British Army. My familiarity with the Charge of the Light Brigade, which occurred during the British, French, and Turkish campaign against the Russians during the Crimean War up until reading this book was lifted from visual snippets from my childhood when my dad would watch the 1936 Hollywood production with Errol Flynn, by the same name, but taking place during the wrong war for the wrong reasons with all the wrong characters, and the often quoted Tennyson poem from which the title originates.

"Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred"

I'm glad I read this book and straightened out my truly twisted sense of British history on this one. I also learned a great deal more. This book is a masterpiece and I will feebly attempt to explain why. To understand what really happened during the Battle of Balaclava, Woodham-Smith starts to illustrate the political and military culture within Britain starting just after the turn of the Century and then directly after the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. It is very important to understand that British officers did not attend formal professional military schools nor did they move up through the ranks, they bought their commissions and either learned in the field, engaged in self-study if they were interested in subjects such as warfare, or they lead and managed men based on instinct. Officership was entrusted to and required of only the upper social strata -- those who had a stake in the country were those best fit to lead the military, and more importantly were those less likely to turn the military against the social elite, themselves. This was how the stability of the British aristocracy was balanced and maintained -- in peacetime it works -- the military is not going to over-throw the country. During times of war -- it also works since the military with it's sabre now unsheathed, is typically sent abroad. When sound military leaders emerge and victories are secured, the system is self ratifying. When defeats occur abroad, however, the facts can be easily distorted to hide the incompetence of the officer elite and then too the system ratifies itself, or the aristocracy quietly takes care of it's own. The reason why, not the title but the reason the Light Brigade trotted ceremoniously, not galloped, into the valley of death had everything to do with why the British system of officership was a failure and must be changed.

The book is a masterpiece because it combines the domestic sagas of a Jane Austen novel complete with social circles, sex-scandals, and racial prejudices into a great discription of the reality of a military campaign in progress. Not just from the tactical descriptions of the battles as they were set-up and ensued but the logistics of supporting the infantry and the cavalry to get to those battles. After she describes in great detail the unlikely British victory at the Battle of Alma she quotes the Duke of Wellington who said, "Next to a battle lost, there is nothing more dreadful than a battle won", and from her descriptions of the pain and human suffering inflicted on both sides, the Duke was right. Yet Woodham-Smith adds even more to this book, the pure high drama of military incompetence at it's highest as Lord Raglan unwitting observes a battle unfold from his perch deep behind Russian, the enemy, lines. And of Lord Lucan, who want's to be in charge but is never in the right place at the right time. And to the Charge itself, when Captain Edward Nolan, who carried the charge order to Lord Cardigan, and who in a moment of his own clarity, the coup d'oeil that he himself had written about in the calvary manuals he had penned, gallops to the front of the charge to correct Cardigan's fatal misinterpretation of the charge and is ironically cut down by canon fire just before being able to divert the Light Brigade's direction away from the valley of death. High drama, ferocious battle, scandal, intrigue, incompetence, and an outcome that would forever change the way we train our military officers. A must read for every member of the military -- grunt to general officer, for every history buff, and for those who just like to poke fun at the British way of doing business or to understand why it is they do business their way.
Great book. This work illuminates a world during the first half of 19th Britain and of Ireland as well. Plus, it does exactly what the title says - it explains the reasons why the charge of the light brigade was made. But, you will learn a lot more about the main people involved, their lives and personalities. This is indeed a wonderful story very well told.
This is a fascinating exploration of the personalities involved in the legendary charge. There is also a lot of information about the system of buying commissions in the British Army, a system that sounds absurd in our meritocratic ag, but which seems to have worked pretty well most of the time. The most interesting character is Lord Cardigan, who led the charge. His eccentricities alone makes the book worth reading.
This is a fasinating book. It covers all the back story of the charge of the light brigade and why is was such a slaughter. I enjoyed finding out about the culture of the English aristocracy in the mid 1800s and a detailed account of the Irish potato famine. The personalities of the Earl of Lucan and the Earl of Cardigan are explored in depth. I reccomend this book to anyone interested in British history or the history of war. By the way, my husband read this book for a history of war class when he was a student at Caltech 43 years ago.