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August 27, 2017

The Crimean War - Episode 1 The Reason Why (1997)

"This really is exceptional. The Crimean War, which took place largely on an isolated peninsula in southern Russia in 1855, isn't a popular subject in America but it's hard to know why. We can see echoes of it in the American Civil War that followed a few years later. American troops copied the ballooning red pantaloons of the French zouaves, for instance. And one American observer, George McClellan, twice appointed General of the Army of the Potomac, learned the lesson of siege warfare all too well. The town of Sebastopol, California, was given its name during the siege of the Russian city.

"It was one of the first wars to be covered internationally by journalists, artists, and photographers. Longfellow wrote a famous poem, "The Lady With the Lamp," about Florence Nightingale, who established nursing as a profession in the Crimea. Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the still-more famous "The Charge of the Light Brigade," celebrating British heroism while admitting that "someone had blundered." The reports from the battlefield carried the same shock as Mathew Brady's photographs of the Confederate dead at Antietam. Not that the shock was sufficient to prevent any similar wars later.

"The viewer gets to hear some of the reports and letters from the journalists and soldiers, much like Ken Burns' magnificent "The Civil War." Some of the reporters and officers did evocative sketches and water colors. There are still photos, and even movie footage of survivors of the war in Britain, France, and Russia, parading awkwardly but proudly before the rolling cameras. The man -- a boy at the time -- who blew the bugle sounding the cavalry charge at "the valley of death" gets to blow the call again on a scratchy old recording. Some of the material is amazing."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 27, 2017 07:48 AM