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From the redcoat who served Charles II to the modern, camouflage-clad guard at Camp Bastion, from battlefield to barrack-room, this is a magisterial social history of the British soldier. Since 1660 the army has evolved and adapted, but the social organisation of the men has changed less, with the major combat arms retaining many of the characteristics familiar to those who fought at Blenheim, Waterloo and the Somme. The Duke of Marlborough, who built up the British army to become a world-class fighting force in the 1660s, would recognise in the tired heroes of Helmand the descendants of the men he led to victory at Blenheim over three hundred years ago. 'Soldiers' is exhaustively researched, and Holmes's affection for the soldier shines through on every page. Above all, this book is brimming with great stories, from the chaos of the battlefield to the fug of the barrack-room, from Ulster to Bengal, from Flanders' fields to the Afghan hills. This is a magisterial social history of the British soldier - and Richard Holmes's fitting last tribute to the British soldier to whom he was so devoted.
Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most distinguished and eminent military historians and broadcasters. For many years Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science, he also taught military history at Sandhurst. He was the author of many best-selling and widely acclaimed books including Redcoat, Tommy, Marlborough and Wellington, and famous for his BBC series such as War Walks, In the Footsteps of Churchill and Wellington. He served in the Territorial Army, retiring as a brigadier and Britain's most senior reservist, and was Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment from 1999 to 2007. Richard Holmes died suddenly in April 2011 from pneumonia. He had been suffering from non-Hodgkins' Lymphoma.