Gentlemen's Blood: A History of Dueling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk
The medieval justice of trial by combat evolved into the private duel by sword and pistol, with many thousands of honorable gentlemen facing each other ready to die - or to kill - to wipe out an insult...more
The book is quite entertaining, with Holland’s snarky style that never lets you guess whether she admires or despises the insanity of two men leveling guns at twelve paces. She gives wonderful examples of famous ...more
”’In October of 2002, when America’s relations with Iraq were sliding quickly toward war, the Iraqi vice president suggested settling the conflict with a double duel: “A president against a pre ...more
You really do need to read all the way through this, the recitals of various famous duels are especially funny and often biting. THe commentary is quite dry and witty, poking fun at the participants, the attitudes and the countries involved impartially.
The social conclusions at ...more
Her Southern bias is very clear, not only because of the many pages devoted to Southern dueling, but also because, among other things, she dismisses the Sally Hemings-Thomas Jefferson relationship with an airy sentence that seems to imply that there was no truth to the ...more
The book immediately and glaringly suffers from a lack of structure which combined with poor editing leaves the topic repetitive in format and unexplored.
Identities are thrown in casually as though we should be bored by familiarity with the characters in question. The subject may become too boring if pursued ...more
Bluntly, this book reads like a 2003 update of RBaldick's 1965 work, here written by and for Americans where the other was by and for the English. Every v ...more
That sai ...more
I am only half-way through. So far I'd give it an A+ on the history and the questions it makes me ask myself.
So far I'd give it only a B+ on the detailed philosophical exploration of those questions... the part that will really grab me. Or maybe I'm supposed to do that work myself... we'll see...
Charmingly written, too.
Writing style/prose: 1.5
Sound content and well researched but with an extremely dry approach; a shame, this is a book that could have sung with a bit more adventurous--nay, cavalier--pen.