‘A fascinating collection of military stories … The sort of book that can be picked up at intervals … [but] once tasted, is hard to put down’ Washington Post
From bestselling author Max Hastings, a collection of the most extraordinary stories of war, courage, tragedy, strategy and survival.
Soldiers is a collection of the very best stories about soldiers, brought together by the award-winning, bestselling historian Max Hastings. In his almost sixty years of military study and his work in the midst of modern conflicts as a foreign correspondent, these are the stories that left a mark.
In these pages you will find heroes and cowards; triumphs, tragedies and comedies. It illustrates, mostly through people’s own words, what it’s been like to fight in wars, to live and die as a warrior, from Greek and Roman times through to today’s Iraq and Afghanistan.
The characters include the Black Prince and Cromwell, Wellington at Waterloo, Siegfried Sassoon at the Somme, George Orwell in the Spanish Civil War and Evelyn Waugh as a commando. But there are also Americans, Frenchmen, Israelis, Russians, not to mention the women warriors of Dahomey, Queen Boudicca and the women who serve today in the US Marines. There are more than 300 stories in all, and an astounding variety of soldiers’ experiences through the ages. Many have been responsible for wonderful achievements but a few, also, for dreadful crimes. Some relate horrors, while others tell terrific jokes. In modern writing, we hear from the titans of historical writing with Ben Macintyre and Anthony Beevor.
This is a book that might make you feel as grateful that whatever the troubles of our own times, we are spared the mud and blood and anguish, if also the moments of glory, that the soldiers in these pages bring so vividly to life.
Praise for Chastise (2019) 'A virtuoso performance from a veteran military historian. It is a white-knuckle narrative that brings clarity and insight to a much-loved tale, as well as offering a vital corrective to the drum-thumping conclusions of earlier books.' Sunday Times 'Hastings recounts the actual raids with dramatic intensity ... He brings us into those Lancasters, flying perilously low, straight into flak ... Superb.' Times 'Thoughtful and gripping ... This is a fine book combining great storytelling with a deep appreciation of the melancholy and waste that march in step with glory.' Patrick Bishop, Telegraph 'What is at stake in this revision of the old glorious narrative is something important. The debate over whether this particular raid mattered is, in miniature, the wider historiographical debate over the morals and efficacy of the whole bombing war ... A powerful parable which might instruct us in our own confused times.' Spectator 'Hastings, who is a master of his craft, unfolds the story skilfully ... It doesn't matter how many times you have seen the film, or heard the story, this book is gripping from start to finish' Keith Lowe, Literary Review 'A riveting account that also shines a light on the fact that more than 1,400 civilians died in the floods that followed ... It's a monumental read' Sun 'A fine book about that moonlit Dambusters' raid of 76 years ago, a worthy tribute to the men of 617 Squadron - and their hapless victims' Sunday Express 'A remarkable book ... Combining formidable narrative power with equally potent explanatory insight, it situates the Dambusters Raid in the broader strategic context of World War II' Washington Post
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