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A True Story of Death and Honour

by James Landale

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social history, public
list price: $34.95
category: History
published: 2006
publisher: Dundurn

In 1826, a merchant called David Landale shot his bank manager dead in a duel. Two centuries later, one of his descendants, James Landale, explains why two rational, educated men might choose to resolve a dispute by shooting at one another. Using newly discovered archives, Duel reconstructs in vivid detail both the encounter and the circumstances surrounding it. Landale also tells the story of dueling itself, explaining where this extraordinary phenomenon came from, and why, in the middle of the nineteenth century, it suddenly lost its social legitimacy. Duel is an utterly engrossing narrative that explains to a modern reader why this curious thing called honour drive so many young men to an early death.

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Editorial Reviews

...this rich territory is mined by Landale with great brio, and shrewd selection.

— The Times (London)

With the compellingly told narrative of his ancestor's lethal quarrel, James Landale has skilfully interwoven an account of the origins and development of duelling. He pays close attention to the early 19th century and narrates lively accounts of various duels, particularly that in which Pushkin met his death.

— Scotland on Sunday

This absorbing book looks at not just the case, but the culture and history surrounding the utterly bizarre concept of the duel.

— The Daily Mirror (London)

“What could have been a somewhat dry book turns out instead to be an informative, fast-paced, entertaining read, full of fascinating facts and figures, including some truly bizarre duelling episodes throughout history…..This is due to Landale's decision to interweave his ancestor's story - a gripping yarn dished out in suspense-filled measures - with the history of duelling itself….” – Metro

— Metro

“Lively and illuminating…. What lifts this book from intriguing anecdote to illuminating social history is the skilful way that the author interviews the particular details of this duel with reflections on the changing nature of duelling in general.” –Financial Times (Scotland)

— Financial Times (Scotland)

...a remarkable achievement.

— The Sunday Telegraph

“Not only a compelling, colourful and entertaining take of death, honour and dueling but also a fascinating history of the rise and fall of the duel itself.” –Simon Sebag Montefiore

— Simon Sebag Montefiore

"Duel" is a gem, one of those books so delightful to read that you whizz through it in no time before recommending it to all your friends.

— Mail on Sunday (London)

“An intelligent, gripping read” – Time Out

— Time Out
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About the Author

James Landale

James Landale is Chief Political Correspondent for BBC News 24. Before joining the BBC in 2003, he spent ten years at The Times both as a political correspondent and a foreign news editor. He lives in London with his wife and family.

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