Cover: British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea, from Harvard University PressCover: British Military Spectacle in E-DITION

British Military Spectacle

From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674182608

Publication Date: 11/01/1996

293 pages

16 color illustrations, 17 halftones


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[A] beautifully produced volume… Myerly has written a book that is often innovative, fusing written evidence with that of pictures and artefacts, and linking antiquarianism to broad historical themes in the best manner of cultural history.—Hew Strachan, The Times Literary Supplement

This book is as beautifully tailored as are the uniforms it describes… [It] is a most entertaining and scholarly work. Charm comes with the author’s pleasure in anecdotes.—Hardy Amies, The Times

[An] earnest foray into military aesthetics. There have been innumerable books about army uniforms and traditions, but Myerly, an American cultural and military historian, is concerned also with the impact on society of military spectacle and of those martial virtues and excellences… It is good to see American publishers backing research into facets of British history which our own publishers are eager to neglect.—E.S. Turner, London Review of Books

Myerly explores very effectively the psychological impact of military dress on both soldiers and civilians. His probing into the various meanings behind the sartorial finery, and its presentation in public as ‘spectacle’, reveals a complex picture in which the context of the presentation is all important… He makes too, a welcome contribution on the often puzzling, and at times paradoxical relationship between British soldiers and civilians. For those interested specifically in military dress, there is much comment drawn from primary sources, supported by a well chosen (and well reproduced) selection of contemporary illustrations, half of which are in colour… For the student of military history, and of the British Army and its uniforms in particular, this is a book that has much of interest. It can be interesting and insightful.—Glenn A. Steppler, Army Historical Research [UK]

This well-written and ably-argued study takes an apparently thankless subject—military uniform—and shows it can be employed to throw light on the military, society and politics of the period… Based on a most impressive and imaginative range of archival and published sources, [Myerly’s] book offers not only valuable insights on military history, but also an important perspective on the issue of British exceptionalism.—Jeremey Black, History Today [UK]

[T]he work is thought provoking and…well illustrated.—Major Colin Robins, The War Correspondent: Journal of the Crimean War Research Society [UK]

The British Army is well known for its pomp and pageantry, color and precision drill. Nowhere in its history is this more evident than the period from 1800 to 1857, when the army was at its pinnacle and almost continuously engaged in one campaign or another. This is the first book to take an in-depth look at the purpose and importance of military costume and spectacle in time of war and peace… Recommended.Library Journal

This is an original and fascinating discussion of a critical yet subtle subject heretofore completely overlooked by scholars of war history. This book studies the most visible aspect of British state imagery during the first half of the nineteenth century: military or martial spectacle as seen in uniforms, parades, pictures, music, art, and song. This is an account of how imagery was a vital part of nineteenth century military management in London’s effort to mold the beliefs and actions of its soldiers into expert war tools. In doing this Myerly argues effectively that the imagery’s effect held important consequences for British society as well as British soldiers.—Roger N. Buckley, University of Connecticut

No other book has tried to look at how military dress and mannerism interacted with details of civil society like the circus! The energy of research behind this book is impressive. Myerly has read very widely… The theme he addresses is a real one: military show did matter in British life, and affected soldiers and civilians alike.—William H. McNeill, author of Keeping Together in Time

The book is well written [and] the research is excellent. Myerly has consulted a very wide range of materials, judiciously using secondary sources and drawing a wealth of information from primary sources. The abundance of fascinating detail alone makes this an attractive study to anyone remotely interested in the British military in particular or British culture in general.—John R. Reed, Wayne State University

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