Throughout history the English have been a warlike lot. Often we fight among ourselves - there have been a good few civil wares - and when we were not slaughtering each other, we practised on our neighbours, the Scots, the Irish, the French . . . When that got too easy, we set off around the world to find other people to fight. This was usually done with a hubris that invited some ludicrous pratfall. · Do you know which crazy field marshal told the Duke of Wellington that he had been made pregnant with an elephant by a French grenadier?· Or which cowardly general hid behind a tree when his troops walked straight into a Spanish ambush?· Or which regiment drank 7217 gallons of liquor between them?In The Beastly Battles of Old England, Nigel Cawthorne takes us on a darkly humorous journey through some of our ill-advised military actions. From the war over a severed ear to a general seeking out his rival's mistresses to even the score, it is a miscellany of insufferable arrogance, reckless gallantry, stunning stupidity, massive misjudgements and general beastliness. von Andrew, Christopher
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