Thursday, 18 March 2010
This is one of my favourite books and one I shall read over and over again. Unlike many books about a particular subject in history it is very readable and not padded out with endless pages of waffle, guess-work and bluster. The book is made all the more interesting because it is a true story
Duelling is a very interesting subject in general and not one I knew much about before picking this book up. My guilty confession was that I bought this book in Waterstones because I liked the front cover. I am so glad I did!
The book goes into plenty of detail on the subject of duelling in general including the weapons used, the strict rules in place and the reasons why two rational young men would choose to shoot at each other to settle a dispute. The author also tells the story of his own great-grandfather who actually fought in a duel himself and survived to tell the tale.
Although there is a deeply tragic element in the death of so many promising young men in the prime of life there is also a good amount of humour. The book effectively highlights the point that young men of that period would kill and be killed for the most ridiculous of reasons. An example would be the duel that was fought after one man at dinner requested another man at the table sit somewhere else because he smelt!
A triumph of a book and one that will always be on my bookshelf.
A note worth mentioning is that the title of this book was changed for the US market. The initial release in the UK was titled 'Duel' but the US release has been changed to 'The Last Duel'