Uncommon Valour (Hardback)
The Story of the Victoria Cross
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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.
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 NowMilitary History Now
An interesting and fascinating history, that is controversial but that is what makes it so compelling.GoodReads, Paul Diggett
Read the full review here
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.Old Barbed Wire Blog
Read the full Italian review here
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
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide