"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Crimean War

Who remembers the Crimean War today--apart, perhaps, from a few scattered verses, diffidently recalled from one's childhood, of Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade"? The Napoleonic wars before it, and the world wars in the century after it, seem to have completely overshadowed this conflict. And yet a new book out argues that this was at once a:
(i) war of immense slaughter (c. 800,000?);
(ii) religious war in which Catholics (France) and Protestants (Britain) joined with Muslims (the Ottomans) against an Orthodox Christian power (Russia) to prevent the latter from expanding too far into southern and central Europe and Asia Minor;
(iii) a precursor of modern warfare in many of its methods; and
(iv) "the last crusade" as "Holy Russia" sought to prove its theory of being the Third Rome by capturing Hagia Sophia,  dominating all Orthodox Christians, and ruling over the Holy Land after having driven Islam into the sea (Black, Mediterranean, etc) .

Orlando Figes is a somewhat controversial historian, but this looks like a fascinating book.

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