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The Crimean War bequeathed to Great Britain the Charge of the Light Brigade, a military disaster, and Florence Nightingale, a long-adored heroine. These epitomes of the conflict are not static emblems of Victorian England. They are lodestones for writing the nation’s past, forging its future, and assessing its annals. Other innovations and personages to emerge from the War also continue to exert their hold on ordinary Britons. The War inspired the Victoria Cross, a military award for valor, which holds its allure even today. More recently, Mary Seacole, a Caribbean-born hotelier and healer, has come to the fore as a Crimean heroine. Beyond the names of battles, heroes, and institutions, the Crimean War offered immaterial legacies. It engendered forms of masculinity and models of femininity, as well as practices of burial and structures of feeling. The notion of afterlife allows us to apprehend the longstanding, varied, and elusive effects of this mid-Victorian conflict. The six chapters of this book trace facets of the war and its legacies as they demonstrate the persistence of an overlooked conflict in the making of modern Britain.
The mid-nineteenth century's Crimean War is frequently dismissed as an embarrassment, an event marred by blunders and an occasion better forgotten. In The Crimean War and its Afterlife Lara Kriegel sets out to rescue the Crimean War from the shadows. Kriegel offers a fresh account of the conflict and its afterlife: revisiting beloved figures like Florence Nightingale and hallowed events like the Charge of the Light Brigade, while also turning attention to newer worthies, including Mary Seacole. In this book a series of six case studies transport us from the mid-Victorian moment to the current day, focusing on the heroes, institutions, and values wrought out of the crucible of the war. Time and again, ordinary Britons looked to the war as a template for social formation and a lodestone for national belonging. With lucid prose and rich illustrations, this book vividly demonstrates the uncanny persistence of a Victorian war in the making of modern Britain.
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