Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Review: 'Into The Valley of Death' by Mollo, Mollo & Fosten
Any wargamer wishing to build either the British Light or Heavy cavalry brigades really must access this work. Researched and written by Borris and John Mollo, with illustrations by Bryan Foster, this work covers the organisation, drills, history, uniforms and equipment of the British cavalry division for the Crimean expedition of 1854.
Published in 1991, this work is a completion of research undertaken by the Mollos done in the mid-1960's, financed by Tony Richardson for his feature film The Charge of the Light Brigade (see previous posting). Previously published as Uniforms and Equipment of the Light Brigade, the Mollos expanded their research to complete this work which includes accompanying brief histories to contextualise the technical content which the real value of this work. Those already familiar with other more comprehensive accounts of Balaclava will find the included campaign narratives repetitive and of little value. Nevertheless, those narratives do round this volume out, allowing it to stand alone as more than a technical accompaniment.
None of the deficiencies to be found in the Osprey Balaclava or Crimean additions affect this work. Whilst concentrated on the cavalry, it is comprehensive in every detail and the colour plates by Fosten are superb. My only yearning with this work would have been the inclusion of the Staff for the Cavalry Divisional and Brigade levels for protocols, structure and uniform. A minor quibble to be sure.
Again, this is a highly recommended, in fact 'must have' for anyone wishing to approach Balaclava in anything but a cursory manner. It is rare that a subject is covered in as much specific detail as the British cavalry are in this work. This is a gem. I purchased my 1994 reprint in hard cover through Amazon.com and it remains available. It runs to 127 glossy pages with eight pages of colour plates and a multitude of black and white reprints and photographs (both contemporary and current) to accompany.