Soldiers: Great Stories of War and Peace
‘A gripping new collection from Max Hastings that puts you at the heart of the battle … Compelling’ Daily Mail
‘An unmissable read’ Sunday Times
Soldiers is a very personal gathering of sparkling, gripping tales by many writers, about men and women who have borne arms, reflecting bestselling historian Max Hastings’s lifetime of studying war. It rings the changes through the centuries, between the heroic, tragic and comic; the famous and the humble. The nearly 350 stories illustrate vividly what it is like to fight in wars, to live and die as a warrior, from Greek and Roman times through to recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here you will meet Jewish heroes of the Bible, Rome’s captain of the gate, Queen Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Cromwell, Wellington, Napoleon’s marshals, Ulysses S. Grant, George S. Patton and the modern SAS. There are tales of great writers who served in uniform including Cobbett and Tolstoy, Edward Gibbon and Siegfried Sassoon, Marcel Proust and Evelyn Waugh, George Orwell and George MacDonald Fraser. Here are also stories of the female ‘abosi’ fighters of Dahomey and heroic ambulance drivers of World War I, together with the new-age women soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stories reflect a change of mood towards warfare through the ages: though nations and movements continue to inflict terrible violence upon each other, most of humankind has retreated from the old notion of war as a sport or pastime, to acknowledge it as the supreme tragedy.
This is a book to inspire in turn fascination, excitement, horror, amazement, occasionally laughter. Max Hastings mingles respect for the courage of those who fight with compassion for those who become their victims, above all civilians, and especially in the twenty-first century, which some are already calling ‘the Post-Heroic Age’.
‘[Stories] of breathtaking derring-do … A gripping new collection from Max Hastings that puts you at the heart of the battle … In his powerful new book, Soldiers: Great Stories Of War And Peace, he has collected first-person accounts that illustrate in searing detail and immediacy all the violence, grief, pathos, black humour and courage of conflict. In these compelling extracts, a young officer agonises over his decision to leave a dying comrade, a badly wounded Gurkha gets back into battle, and a legendary field marshal is executed by his own side’Daily Mail -
‘These accounts show the reality of military life … A pointillist portrait of enthralling sensitivity … stories tumble from the pages of this book like gems from a pirate’s chest … The anecdotes about female soldiers in this book are fascinating’Gerard DeGroot, The Times -
‘An unmissable read … A brilliant, wide-ranging anthology … The book ambly proves Max Hastings’s contention that “all generalisations about soldiers fail” and that “they come in as many sorts and conditions as does the rest of humanity” … The sheer variety of voices for which Hastings has found room is impressive … The most famous names of military history, from Julius Caesar to Erwin Rommel, have their places, yet some of the most compelling tales are those of ordinary, often reluctant warriors. For all those who share Hastings’s “fascination with wars and those who have fought through the ages”, Soldiers is an unmissable collection’Sunday Times -
‘A delightful book, which can be dipped into anywhere and which will provide enormous enjoyment to all those who are interested in how people react to war’Aspects of History -
‘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 -