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Uncommon Valour (Kindle)

The Story of the Victoria Cross

British History Crimean War Royal Navy Royal Air Force Victoria Crosses Military

By Granville Allen Mawer
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 125.6 MB (.mobi)
This file exceeds the Kindle Cloud 50 MB size limit
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781526755407
eBook Released: 20th June 2019


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What is the nature of courage, how and when should it be recognized, and how has our appreciation of it changed? These are among the questions Granville Allen Mawer seeks to answer in this absorbing study of the history of the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the British honours system for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. His is the first analytical account of the institution of the Victoria Cross, and it is a fascinating study of the ethics of rewarding bravery. It explores in dispassionate detail the thinking behind the creation of the award, the reasons why individual awards were given and how, over the last 160 years, the system has developed and changed.

Using vivid and carefully selected examples, he compares individual actions that led to a Victoria Cross and considers the circumstances in which they took place and the reasons given for making the award. So many factors were involved – the character of the individual concerned, the severity of the danger he faced, the situation of the British forces, whether his conduct was seen and recorded, and the interpretation of the criteria for making an award at the time.

This unconventional treatment of the Victoria Cross may be controversial, but it should stimulate a deeper understanding of the history of the medal and of the heroism of those to whom it has been awarded.

It might be “controversial” to some and I don’t think those people would appreciate this book. But for anyone with a passing interest in military history, or even curious as to the deeds that have been done to be put forward for the VC, will enjoy this book. I did.

There are many quoted citations from the early days of the award, through WWI and WWII. At the end of the book is a full list of recipients up to 2018.

It's a fascinating and thought provoking work.

Read the full review here

Vintage Airfix

Mawer has given us a very fine piece of work, a thoughtful but lively essay on what such an award is really all about. It should appeal to anyone interested in military values. Chapters perhaps, if not the whole book, might serve well as texts in military leadership classes at the U.S. Naval Academy or elsewhere. The armchair historian will find it a pleasure.

Read the full review here

Naval Historical Foundation

This is a potentially controversial study of the history of the Victoria Cross and changing criteria for the award. This book takes a different approach to that of most books about the Victoria Cross and those awarded it – Highly Recommended.

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The volume is both well written and easy to read. Military Historians with a specific interest in the Victoria Cross may find it of interest, as could readers with a more ‘generalist’ interest in the British armed forces, and their awards for brave deeds. Readers seeking descriptions of ‘Feats of daring-do’ by ordinary individuals in unusual situations may also find it worth of their attention.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

The Victoria Cross — 12 Things You Might Not Know About Britain’s Highest Decoration for Valour article on Military History Now

Military History Now

An interesting and fascinating history, that is controversial but that is what makes it so compelling.

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GoodReads, Paul Diggett

The story of the Victoria Cross has been told before, but in Granville Mawer's hands, the stories simply come alive. Gripping and inspirational.

Books Monthly

This book undoubtedly offers the ideal starting point for an analysis of Victoria Cross and of reference of the British military history of the last 150 years.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

This book takes an analytical view of the awarding of the Victoria Cross and emphasises how the conditions and structures for the award changed, probably to ensure its pre-eminence. Given that 25% of all VC’s were awarded within the first four years of its institution (Crimea/Indian Mutiny) it became increasingly clear in later conflicts involving considerably more men, that it had to be carefully monitored. In doing so the inevitable inconsistencies of opinion created circumstances when very worthy nominees were refused the honour; not least being the problem of the absence of appropriate supporting accounts – not ‘catching the umpires eye’. Decisions were not always consistent. The book is a good read and sits well alongside the very worthy books of Paul Oldfield. Recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Granville Allen Mawer

Granville Allen Mawer, a former senior public servant in Australia, is a historian who has specialized in military, maritime and exploration history. His previous publications include Most Perfectly Safe: The Convict Shipwreck Disasters of 1833-42; Ahab’s Trade: The Saga of South Seas Whaling; South by Northwest: The Magnetic Crusade and the Contest for Antarctica; Diary of a Spitfire Pilot; Incognita: The Invention and Discovery of Terra Australis; A Voyage to New Holland and Round the World and South Sea Argonaut: James Colnett and the Enlargement of the Pacific.

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