When historians think of the Crimean War, fought from 1853 to 1856, they tend to think of the dreadful image of disease and suffering it caused. What tends to be side lined is the introduction, role and influence of new technologies. In his article, Yakup Bektas looks to explore this uncommonly addressed area. He explains that the conflict opened what was to be ‘a theatre of exuberant technological enterprise.’ He covers the impact of railways, photography, telegraph and medical technologies, explaining how the war offered each the opportunity for showing their worth in a military context.
There are four key debates Bektas wishes is to address. The first is shown already in how the war provided technological opportunity, the second is to show how the technology created interest at home, how it made people want to read accounts of the conflict. The third is to explain how these technologies were not as effective as some make them out to be, for example Cooke’s railway, which Bektas believes showed more potential for the future rather than its direct impact. The final debate Bektas argues is that these technologies were only employed due to the critique of British leaders’ incompetency to plan ahead during the war.
Whether he achieves these aims is another debate. Whilst Bektas clearly states his four intentions of the article, a more convincing argument could have been made had the structure of the article been adapted to suit it. Although he states that he will focus only on a British perspective, in order to fully achieve his four aims, Bektas could have at least mentioned what was happening on the other side. How the Russians were not as technologically advanced and how it hampered their opportunities throughout the war.
The footnotes of his article are clustered and confusing. Some are appropriately referenced whilst others are too vague or contain irrelevant information. However, it is fair to say that many of the sources he uses, aid in creating his argument. With regards to other strengths, his article does provide a convincing argument of the impact of technology during the Crimean War. It flows smoothly from one area of technology to another and comes to an interesting conclusion. Whilst one may disagree with his findings, for example how the role of technology has been over exaggerated in its practical sense, his conclusion does try to answer how the article achieved each of his previous aims.