Gentlemen's Blood by Barbara Holland
A Thousand Years of Sword and Pistol

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Barbara Holland guides us lightheartedly through the touchy subject of honor-and how to defend it-in this compulsively readable history of dueling's first thousand years.

The medieval justice of trial by combat evolved into the private duel by sword and pistol, with thousands of honorable men-and not-so-honorable women-giving lives and limbs to wipe out an insult or prove a point. Here are their stories, from Dumas's Three Musketeers to America's founding fathers, including the New Orleans doctors who settled their medical disagreements under The Oaks, the short-lived newspaper editors of America's South and West, and certain twenty-first-century Parisian politicians.

The duel was essential to private, public, and political life. Where it was technically illegal, those who followed the elaborate codes of procedure were seldom prosecuted and rarely convicted: they were obeying a grand old tradition. Gentlemen's Blood is the definitive guide to this courtly violence, from an author called "a witty curmudgeon" by George Will and "a national treasure" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, whose style, according to Kirkus Reviews, "fits somewhere between E.B. White and Andy Rooney."

A Smithsonian Magazine Selection.

About Barbara Holland

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Barbara Holland is the author of thirteen books, most recently Hail to the Chiefs-a BookSense pick-and They Went Whistling. She lives in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
Published September 8, 2003 by Bloomsbury USA. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Besides accounts of such famed duel winners as Jim Bowie—or losers, like Alexander Hamilton—she describes astronomer Tycho Brahe getting his nose sliced off, artist Caravaggio slaying a victorious tennis opponent and writer Alexander Pushkin canceling a gunfight in progress because of a snowstorm.

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