Redcoat by Richard Holmes


Magnificent history of the common British soldier from 1700 to 1900 by one of Britain’s best-known and accomplished military writers and broadcasters. Red Coat is non-fiction Sharpe, filled with anecdote and humour as well as historical analysis.‘Redcoat is a wonderful book. It is not just a work of history – but one of enthusiasm and unparalleled knowledge.' BERNARD CORNWELLRedcoat is the story of the British soldier from c.1760 until c.18...

Details Redcoat

Release DateAug 5th, 2002
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Military, Military History, War, Military Fiction, Literature, 18th Century, European Literature, British Literature, Reference, Research, Historical, 19th Century

Reviews Redcoat

  • Manray9
    Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket is another fine work by British historian Richard Holmes. Holmes presents life in the King’s army from the time of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, through the Indian Mutiny. He covers all facets from recruitment, camp life, pay, uniforms, weapons, tactics, women, rations and -- not to be neglected – drink, which was copious. Much as in his admirable Sahib: The British So...
  • Stephen
    ‘There is no beating these British soldiers. They were completely beaten and the day was mine, but they did not know it and would not run.’I first knew red coats as the kit of villains, the bad guys of the American Revolution. A healthy diet of other history, however, has given me a ready admiration of the British army - - one I put aside when I'm watching something like The Patriot and am obliged to hiss at Jason Isaac's amazingly evil drago...
  • Dean Hamilton
    "All gentlemen that have a mindto serve the queen that's good and kindcome 'list and enter into pay..."The Duke of Wellington called them "The scum of the earth". Although he on occasion added as an afterword "But what very fine fellows we have made of them...", he was not far off the mark. They were uneducated, generally illiterate, frequently drunk, poverty-stricken, disease-ridden, itinerate looters, vagabonds and thieves. They were the redcoa...
  • Lee
    comprehensive history of the british soldier in the 18th and 19th centuries - not just a military, but a social history. Definitely warts and all, but as always, Richard Holmes makes the era come alive
  • Neil
    Highly readable, if slightly meandering overview of just about every detail of the British soldier over the century between roughly 1750-1850. The generalisations are acknowledged by the author from the get-go and this sets the tone for a great pick-up-put-down read. I particularly liked the inclusion of a number of quotations and anecdotes from real soldiers. Cracking stuff
  • Marina
    An excellent work rescribing the British Army during the 150-year period (18th-mid-19th centuries). It helped me understand the time when some of my favorite novels are set much better. The style is easy and clear (not overtly academic), the explanations are detailed, the bibliography is a wonder. I highly recommend the book to anyone wishing to study the history of British army.
  • Nicki Markus
    Redcoat was a really hard book for me to rate because I found it both interesting and dull at the same time. It was deeply interesting to learn more about the British army in the period, and Holmes is clearly both knowledgeable and passionate about the subject; however, at times the prose really dragged, bogged down by dull facts and figures, and in those moments I started skim-reading, eager to get to the next section. Therefore, I would not rec...
  • Alistair
    I picked up this book having begun reading through Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. It is a wonderfully varied overview of the life and death of the British soldier between the mid 18th and mid 19th centuries. Full of character, anecdotes and interesting fact across the period, I would highly recomend it for anyone wanting further insight into the period, or as an accompaniment to works set across its timeframe and subject matter.
  • Eve
    I am not even brit, but I like this book. Soldiers are people too. Whatever what the current politic says, whatever what the higher up people say, those who fought in a long time ago battles was human, not just a killing machine. Often, unsung hero or villain, it depends how you look at it. I just wish the book was better organized by timeline, not mixed, which sometimes confusing.
  • Scott
    Very dry at times but a good read on the history of the British soldier up until the 1900's. I wished it would lay off comments about society of the times and focus more on the equipment they carried and how it was packed.
  • Jbondandrews
    An enjoyable read.
  • John
    Excellent. Eye-opening and moving
  • Gregory
    Absolutely fascinating, a brilliantly-written and detailed account of life and death in the army of the world's greatest empire. The addition of diary entries from the very men who fought with the infantry, cavalry and artillery during gruelling episodes of human struggle, bravery and slaughter, highlight the humanity of war, without just focusing on those more famous men usually in the limelight.
  • Bobby Fiasco
    Could have used a little more about the daily lives and revealing anecdotes of the common soldiers, less about battalion pay structure in the 1790's.
  • Everett Sharp
    An excellent book as usual with this prolific military author
  • Bill McFadyen
    Redcoat tells the story of the British soldier through the American , Wellington and Indian mutiny conflicts. The book is factual and includes tales of privates and generals at war and at peace. If you enjoy the Sharpe books of Bernard Cornwall you will probably enjoy this beautifully written book.
  • Steve
    Mid 2. Although Holmes has compiled an interesting historical portrait of the typical British soldier and his place in military conflict over the period 1756-1860, his account is of more interest to those with a fascination with military weaponry and tactics leaving the general reader with few details of wider scope. The author explains that the British infantry and its role had distinct characteristics dependent on whether it served in the Europ...
  • Colleen
    A fantastic book. It skips around a bit but I liked all the various sections and how he broke down the subject matter. I now want to read the rest of his books and have ordered a few to take up next. This book is a very chatty one, populated with TONS of anecdotes and interesting facts, and refreshingly focuses on the average soldier, but naturally lots of information on officers and leaders (especially Wellington). It traces the army from the Se...
  • Marguerite Kaye
    This book was recommended to me by several other author friends, and I'm so glad I found it. A first class and fully comprehensive account of what it was like to be a common soldier in the British army spanning more than a hundred years. Redcoat gives you all the stuff you'd expect about uniforms, orders of battle, discipline and arms. It covers the changes that happened in the span between the Seven Years War up to the Crimea. It covers the vari...
  • Alex
    Another disappointing effort from Richard Holmes: I'd heard such good things about this book and Tommy but actually it's not worth it. It's well researched and full of accurate trivial detail. He fails, however, in his aim of dealing with the ordinary private soldier as much of the history he discusses concentrates on the generals and officers leading the wars and battles. He does manage to give a good account of the size, structure and organisat...
  • Robert Hepple
    Redcoat tells the history of the British Soldier from around 1760 to around 1860. The soldier is told mainly through a series of anecdotes relating to different subject areas pertaining to army life, rather than through a linear path through the campaigns and battles of the period. It did seem like a large proportion of the anecdotes came from the Peninsular campaign in the Napoleonic War or from the Crimean War, but that still left room for many...
  • Bob Mobley
    Redcoat is the story of the British soldier, those non-commissioned men Kipling called “backbone of the army” from roughly 1760 – 1860. The author weaves together the day to day struggles and joys of British soldiers in peace time as well as on combat duty. If you are interested in a terrific insight into the British and its traditions, and the evolution that comes from changing technology and tactics you will like this book. What makes it ...
  • Owen
    Richard Holmes tackles this behemoth of a subject, with vivid recollections from the era and excellent writing. Approaching his subject matter with the balance that it deserves and reminding the reader never to forget the valiant lives that have shaped history. Pulling together military, social and medical history to name but a few, in order to bring his subject to life. No matter how small, they appear to be. I would thoroughly recommend this bo...
  • Redsteve
    Excellent. A comprehensive look at the British Army (from soldiers on up to officers but also including army agents, camp followers, wives and childeren, etc) from recruitment and training to transportation, march, battle and siege, bivouac, recreation, pay and "retirement". The author focuses on the period when the "Brown Bess" musket wa the primary weapon of the British infantryman - from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, t...
  • Trawets
    If you have an interest in British military history then this is a "must read".Richard Holmes gives us an in-depth study of the British Army in the 18th and 19th centuries.A great read with a surprising number of contemporary accounts.
  • Andrew
    Well researched and told. A short synopsis somewhere about the battles covered over the course of the book... reason, location, outcome... would have helped. Not too much info either on the lives of old and ex-soldiers. Solid history otherwise.
  • Roger
    An immense book that deals with almost two centuries in one span showing the background to the life and activities of the british soldier. Fascinating and the way it skims from one action to another, decades apart works well.
  • Jem Wilton
    Fantastic historical analysis mixing great real life stories in with the history - only reason it's not a 5...the history of the make up of particular regiments, battalions etc got a little too intense.
  • Vikas Datta
    Most informative and interesting..
  • John Newcomb
    An epic collection of anecdotes regarding the army from the seven years war to the Crimea. All very hearts of oakish.