From the acclaimed biographer of Lord Mountbatten and King Edward VIII: a poignant and illuminating book, rich in narrative and anecdote, that explores the lives of nine British soldiers, or “Chelsea Pensioners,” whose wartime experiences span the twentieth century.
A particularly British institution, the Royal Hospital Chelsea was opened in 1692 and, like Les Invalides in Paris, it was designed to provide a secure home for indigent veterans. Three hundred years later, it is still serving its original purpose, and its residents—who have seen action from Passchendaele to Anzio, from the Malayan emergency to the Mau Mau uprising, from Aden to Indonesia—are perhaps a more traditional breed of soldier than can be found anywhere else.
Philip Ziegler is fascinated by the values that these veterans share, and that the Army inculcated in them: self-discipline, acceptance of risk and pain, patriotism, loyalty to their fellows. And sometimes, of course, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, even blinkered stupidity. Are the old values of duty, honor and country still relevant, or are these men the last survivors of a lost world?
To read this book is to understand what soldiers are all about, what they fight for and how they fit into the world of today.
With 18 photographs.
About Philip Ziegler
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Published February 26, 2002
History, Travel, War, Biographies & Memoirs.