by Roderick Beaton
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Pp. xviii, 338.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $27.99 paper. ISBN: 1107470382
Lord Byron at War
Essentially the first book to seriously look at Byron’s experiences during the Greek War for Independence,
and the country’s influence on his life and writings, in telling that story, Prof. Beaton (Richard Stockton)
does more. He also
gives the reader a rather comprehensive overview of the opening years of the Greek War for Independence (1821-1824), in which the poet was deeply involved
, a subject largely overlooked in English historical literature
reflects Byron’s role, which, despite the poet’s apparent desires, was not a combatant one. So while Beaton gives us an outline of the military events, we learn much more about conditions under Ottoman rule, the politics and diplomacy of revolution, the complexities of forging a common “front” from among several Greek factions, and revolutionary finance, a matter in which Byron’s great personal wealth played an important role.
In addition to Byron, Beaton also
introduces us to
quite a number of interesting, now largely forgotten characters, Ali Pasha, the Gamba family, Alexandros Mavrocordatos, and more. So despite
limitations, given the lack of a good recent English history of the Greek War for Independence, Byron’s War is likely to be of value to those interested in popular revolutionary movements and organization, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and 19th century international revolutionary volunteerism.
Byron’s War is also available in hardback, $50.00, ISBN 978-1-107-03308-5