Inevitably any book about the Crimean War and in particular the disaster immortalized in The Charge of the Light Brigade and the Men involved therein will be compared to Cecil Woodham-Smith's The Reason Why (McGraw-Hill- 1954). The likeness here beings and ends with the bald facts. The Hibbert book is the first actual biography of the man who commanded the British forces in the ill-fated Crimean War, 1854-55 -- and credit goes to the author for a sympathetic treatment of a not easy to handle subject. He explores the causes of a war ostensibly undertaken to keep the Russians from extending their domain through the crumbling Turkish Empire. Though the outcome was a British military disaster it was a technical victory for the French and British. Neglect had decimated the British army since Waterloo; few of the high ranking officers had combat experience; even Lord Raglan, in the commanding position, had had experience only as a young side to Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars. Supplies and transport proved a dead end of incompetence. Mr. Hibbert's book is both a military history and an assessment of the blame, including that ascribed to Lord Raglan. The pitched battles-Alma, Balaclava, inkerman receive full and graphic descriptions, as does the terrible winter of , the soldiers in the trenches without warm clothing, food or fuel, disease rampant. The Times exposed the appalling conditions, Raglan was frequently blamed, but the real villains were the antiquated army organization and bungling in London. Even amateurs in military history will find this an excellent presentation, and one must not look for the brilliant and sensitive analysis of The Reason Why, which might well be recommended along with this.