A sweeping political, social, military and cultural overview of the United Kingdom on the eve, and then the day, of the greatest battle fought by British arms. Midnight, Sunday, 17 June 1815. There was no town in England that had not sent its soldiers, hardly a household that was not holding its breath, not a family, as Byron put it, that would escape 'havoc's tender mercies' at Waterloo, and yet at the same time life inevitably went on as normal. As Wellington's rain-sodden army retreated for the final, decisive battle, men and women in England were still going to the theatre and science lectures, still working in the fields and the factories, still reading and writing books and sermons, still painting their pictures and sitting in front of Lord Elgin's marbles as if almost five thousand did not already lie dead. After ten hours of savage fighting, Waterloo would be littered with the bodies of something like 47,000 dead and wounded. Meanwhile, as the day unfolded, a whole nation, countryside and town, artisan and aristocrat, was brought together by war. From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, Went the Day Well is a breathtaking portrait of Britain in those moments. Moving from England to the battle and back again this vivid, stunning freeze-frame of a country on the single most celebrated day in its modern history shows Crane's full range in tracing the endless, overlapping connections between people's lives. From private tragedies, disappointed political hopes, and public discontents to grandiloquent public celebrations and monuments, it answers Wellington's call as he rallied his troops to 'Think what England is thinking of us now'.
Sunday 18th June, 1815, will be forever linked with the Battle of Waterloo, and the events of that cataclysmic conflict are well documented. However, of all the books marking the attle’s bicentennial, this is one with a difference. It is more about the state of Britain two hundred years ago than it is about the events in Belgium. Crane has done a wonderful job recapturing the events of that day from an unusual perspective. Allocating a chapter for each of the twenty-four hours, he takes the reader through the slaughter of that summer’s day, but he simultaneously switches back to events on the other side of the Channel, as the book moves from Blucher to Byron and from Wellington to Wordsworth, visiting prisons and palaces as well as the home of Lady Caroline Lamb. Crane brings a remarkable immediacy and urgency to that fateful day and puts it in its true perspective.
Praise for 'Empires of the Dead':
A beautifully researched and written book, an intellectually honest work of history
'A beautifully written, enormously touching account'
'Of the avalanche of books to commemorate the centennial of the opening of the Great War, 'Empires of the Dead' is the most original, best written and most challenging so far. It strikes at the heart of the current debate about what we are commemorating, celebrating or deploring in the flood of ceremony, debate and literary rows about the meaning of the First World War today' Evening Standard
'Outstanding ... Crane shows how extraordinary a physical, logistical and administrative feat it was to bury or commemorate more than half a million dead in individual graves. And he reveals that this Herculean task was accomplished largely due to the efforts of one man: Fabian Ware'
Independent on Sunday
'Excellent' Sunday Times
'Vivid and compelling ... David Crane writes exuberant, joyful prose. He is acutely aware of the ambiguities and nuances surrounding the issues of war and death; and that makes this a fine and troubling book, as well as a riveting read' Literary Review
Publication date: 29/01/2015
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||29th January 2015|
|Publisher:||William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites, History, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Napoleonic Wars, European history, Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900,|
David Crane's first book, 'Lord Byron's Jackal' was published to great acclaim in 1998, and his second, 'The Kindness of Sisters' published in 2002, is a groundbreaking work of romantic biography. In 2005 the highly acclaimed 'Scott of the Antarctic' was published, followed by 'Men of War', a collection of 19th Century naval biographies, in 2009. His 'Empires of the Dead' was shortlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize. He lives in north-west Scotland.More About David Crane