The Reason Why

By Cecil Woodham-Smith

Words from the achiever

“There’s a wonderful book by a writer named Cecil Woodham-Smith called The Reason Why, and it is a story of why the Light Brigade charged into the Valley of Death, the Battle of Balaclava, and every child in America in my generation knows, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die.” Well it’s a great book, and instead of this heroic portrait of these poor dear young men charging off into the death, it is a portrait of the utter incompetence of the British military system, Lord Raglan and Lord Cardigan who sent them into this, into their death, and it’s a brilliant book, and it’s written as if it’s a novel. It’s breathtaking, and I thought, “God, I’d really like to write a book like that, I’d like to write a non-fiction book that is like a novel.”

About the book

The story of the fatal charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War of 1854, when 600 British troops were sacrificed by their commanders in a futile gesture without tactical purpose. In this engrossing account, Mrs. Woodham-Smith immerses the reader in a lost world of cavalry charges and regimental pomp, and draws a sobering lesson for our own time.