Wilson Hines's Reviews > The Crimean War: A History

The Crimean War by Orlando Figes
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's review
Mar 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: favorites
Recommended for: European History, History
Read from December 20, 2011 to January 01, 2012 , read count: 1

This book is in amazing detail. In fact, I think this is the reason I put it at 4 stars instead of 5. It was too much detail. There are 480 pages, or so, of text to read and I think it could have been written in 400.

The book is a flashlight on one example of how religion and war have made a deadly mix in human history. I originally started reading the book wanting to get further background on the possibilities of why Adolph Hitler came to his way of thinking and thought processes. Before I read this book, the Crimean War was possibly another closet that needed to be dug into to try to figure out what cause the National Socialist to evolve. In the beginning of the book on into the last couple of chapters, I thought I was digging into a useless closet, but still learning a great deal about a long forgotten and tragic war. Then in the last couple of chapters some light started to be shone on possible connections. I do see connections, and O. Figes specifically mentions how the Treaty of Paris absolutely put Austria in the weakest position going into the 20th Century of all of the Great Powers. It also specifically connected how the Crimean War and the proceeding 25 years of Russo-Francan and then Russo-Austrian pacts ended up creating the Balkan mess, which directly impacted and started WWI, and subsequently WWII.

In the end, the Crimean War was fought, millions died, an entire land mass was leveled, and there was no reason for it. It was pride from the start. Pride on every single side of the equation. The British were Russophobic to the point of rabid stupidity; the French had Napoleon III and he was eager to reclaim France's stance as the leading geopolitical State in Europe - and he did; the Russians and Tsar Nicolas were fed up with Christian persecutions in the Ottoman Empire in a variety of ways and he was fed up with the Latin church and their control of the Holy sites in Palestine. The Greek Orthodox priests egged Nicolas forward. The war was 100% political and 100% religious in nature. The same war would've been fought if either one of the two, political or religious natures, didn't exist.

Figes did a fantastic job of showing the preceding 150 to 200 years of history that lead up to the war. It represents at least a third of the book, maybe more. He mentions in the preface that the casual reader may want to just waltz on up and skip a couple of the first chapters and for me that was nothing but a challenge to dig deep. In my humble opinion, you need to read those first two or three chapters to get a true basis of why this war was fought, especially from the religious point of view.


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Reading Progress

04/11/2011 page 50
8.0% "About time I got to know where from does the phrase the "Thin Red Line" hail! Also, why do American historians have such a terrible time admitting the Crimean War was the actual first "modern war.""
12/25/2011 page 200
34.0% "And the battles begin..."
12/27/2011 page 250
42.0% "This war has to be the biggest ego trip of a war in the history of the human race."
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