Sunday, October 17, 2010

All for a Shilling a Day

An early book, now something of a classic, by the (still very much alive apparently!) Donald Featherstone; one of our hobbies true forefathers and leaders.

'Shilling' tells the tale of the 16th Lancers and the battle of Aliwal in the first Sikh War. In particular, Donald focuses on the recruitment, training and living conditions of the troopers in an unromantic style.

Oddly, what was I reminded of when reading this? Warhammer 40k. The grim past of which Mr Featherstone speaks precedes and carries a similar tone to the endless savage backstory within Games Workshop's dark universe.

Safe to say death and misery are never far away from the troopers of the 16th, even if they are far from battle. In fact battle is their time to shine, and is represented as far preferable and as the epitomy of Victorian endeavour.

Donald's knowledge of the subject is extensive, this book was originally published in the 1960's, but at this time I think his writing was still under development. The extensive notes (well over a third of the book) are excellent, but at times his efforts at carrying a semi fictionalised narrative, and some limited dialogue are laboured and repetitive. Some of it today is some distance from the politically correct. Still it speeds along, and as a rainy Sunday read will bring out the small boy in any wargamer over the age of forty.

It is regularly republished and last appeared in 2007; you should have no difficulty finding a copy, and it will be worth while.

1 comment:

  1. Actually the 'late great' Donald Featherstone is still alive and kicking at the ripe old age of 92.