|Trade paperback, 203 pages|
Acquired January 2020
Read July 2020
This monograph does exactly what it promises, providing a 166-page (not counting backmatter) history of the Crimean War, primarily from the perspective of the United Kingdom. I picked it up because though I've been studying the Victorian era for over a decade now, the Crimean War is still somewhat obscure to me, and some of my recent research has brushed up against it (Two Years Ago and Lynton Abbott's Children both have epilogues where characters go off to serve in the Crimea, for example). There's a lot to pack in, and sometime it gets overwhelming, especially in the early chapters, which bandy a lot of names around, and have a lot of complicated geopolitical relationships to keep track of. I'll admit (and I don't think this is Tate's fault), the actual cause of the war still seems somewhat obscure!
The book succeeds best when it can zoom in on specific issue and explore it in depth; this happens in three spots, with the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Siege of Sebastopol, and the naval campaign in the Baltic. I especially liked Tate's discussion of Sebastopol, both the siege itself (covered in ch. 3) and its aftermath (the entirety of ch. 4). She goes in depth on how the conquering British came into the city, what they saw there, and how it was represented in the press and in art, especially photography. The book's strongest thread is its focus on the Crimean War as a "modern" war, in that it was the first war where the telegraph had a big influence (so reports got back to Britain quickly), and the first war where photography was extensively employed. She has some great stuff on how war came to be perceived differently as a result, a transformation that would only deepen with the coming of the Great War.
So a useful primer, and one I can see myself referring to if I encounter the Crimean War more in my research.