Barbara Holland guides us lightheartedly through the touchy subject of honor-and how to defend it-in this compulsively readable history of dueling's first thousand years. [via]
The medieval justice of trial by combat evolved into the private duel by sword and pistol, with thousands of honorable men-and not-so-honorable women-giving lives and limbs to wipe out an insult or prove a point. Here are their stories, from Dumas's Three Musketeers to America's founding fathers, including the New Orleans doctors who settled their medical disagreements under The Oaks, the short-lived newspaper editors of America's South and West, and certain twenty-first-century Parisian politicians.
The duel was essential to private, public, and political life. Where it was technically illegal, those who followed the elaborate codes of procedure were seldom prosecuted and rarely convicted: they were obeying a grand old tradition. Gentlemen's Blood is the definitive guide to this courtly violence, from an author called "a witty curmudgeon" by George Will and "a national treasure" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, whose style, according to Kirkus Reviews, "fits somewhere between E.B. White and Andy Rooney."
A Smithsonian Magazine Selection.