Awarded for Valour

A History of the Victoria Cross and the Evolution of British Heroism


The Victoria Cross: the highest standard of valour. The exploits of its winners are the stuff of legend. But why was it instituted? What factors came together during the Crimean War to create this award? Since its inception 1,356 have been awarded, but the circumstances of warfare have changed wand with them the very concept of heroism has evolved.  Awarded for Valour traces the evolution of this concept from its origins on the fields before Sevastopol, across the dashing campaigns of imperial expansion and defence, where the concept of heroism was a curious combination of the romantic and the pragmatic (all held in place with a stiff upper lip) and into the cauldron of the First World War, from which a very different concept of heroism arose.
  • Palgrave Macmillan; June 2008
  • ISBN 9780230583351
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Awarded for Valour
  • Author: Smith, Melvin Charles, Dr
  • Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan

In The Press

'A fascinating study of the construction of heroism and martial virtue refracted through the evolution of the Victoria Cross. Smith analyses the complex interactions between civilian culture, governmental and military policy and the advent of industrial warfare in determining the standards of heroism required for the highest formal recognition. Along the way he reveals much about the evolution of the British Army, especially between the Crimean and the end of the Great War, and of the expectations held of it by government, public and its own members. Highly recommended.' - Professor Jeffrey Grey, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia.

'Dr Smith has produced an interesting and important book that has done much to rescue the history of the VC from the attentions of amateur historians.' - Contemporary British History

About The Author

MELVIN CHARLES SMITH has taught at a variety of institutions, holding appointments at West Carolina University, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, the United States Millitary Academy at West Point, and Texas A&M International University.  He is currently in a tenure-track position with the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, USA.