by John Harris
Cannon to the left of them; cannon to the right of them… The legend of an extraordinary defeat brought vividly to life
The cavalry charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War remains one of the most iconic disasters in British military history. Here bestseller John Harris casts a fresh view on the subject, rejecting conventional wisdom.
The calamity was, he argues, brought about by something much more complex than the usually suspected cause: internal rivalry and incompetence. The divisional commander Lord Lucan was an earnest, unpopular man trying to do his best, plagued by the obsessions of an over-cautious commander-in-chief, an inexperienced and hot-headed ‘expert’ and a petulant and unmanageable brigadier itching for glory.
How these facts combined to cause the tragedy is shown in a striking, unputdownable narrative. The story is not just about commanders, but also about the men who took part in the famous charge. We see them not as drink-sodden brutalised soldiers, but as intelligent, able, courageous men led by officers who were far from unpopular fools.
With its slow mounting to the inevitable climax of conflict and with the second half of the book describing the Battle of Balaclava in detail The Charge is a brilliant battle epic.