Soldiers by Philip Ziegler
Fighting Men's Lives, 1901-2001

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Synopsis

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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Philip Ziegler was born in 1929 and was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford. He then joined the Diplomatic Service and served in Vientiane, Paris, Pretoria and Bogotá before resigning to join the publisher William Collins, where he was editorial director for more than fifteen years. His books include biographies of Osbert Sitwell, King William IV, Melbourne, Lady Diana Cooper, Lord Mountbatten and King Edward VIII.
 
Published February 26, 2002 by Knopf. 352 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Though the men came to the military in varied ways and left with different experiences, they are united by a seemingly lost sense of duty and stoicism that is particularly poignant from the British perspective.

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Project MUSE

Selecting just nine lives from the three hundred In-Pensioners available, Ziegler still manages to cover both World Wars and all the varied campaigns fought by the British Army in the last hundred years, while distilling all the characteristics—and characters—present among the In-Pensioners.

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