“Matthew Perry is an excellent storyteller and a meticulous researcher. Put those traits together and the result is A Professional Soldier, the biography of James Duncan of the 17th Lancers. The book is unlike any other biography I have ever read, in that lacking extensive letters and journals, Perry has pieced together a remarkable work which not only tells the story of Duncan, but is an unimaginably precise depiction of the daily life of a cavalry soldier in the 19th century. Though Duncan left no record of what his army physical exam was like, Perry includes a detailed description of how recruits were inspected and even why some were re-inspected before being allowed to join their regiment. He delves into such subjects, as the type of training each man would receive, what factors were tested in promotional exams, and the specific duties associated with various ranks. As Perry follows Duncan in his military travels, he includes detailed information on events that were occurring at that place and time, making the entire work a microcosm of Victorian life; it is a ‘must have’ for every cavalry buff’s library.”
Review by Lawrence Crider.
‘The War Correspondent’.