In the 1640s, thousands of young men in the British Isles set off to fight in the Civil Wars, full of enthusiasm and commitment to the cause. They were soon to be disillusioned. Accustomed to a relatively peaceful and secure way of life, the realities of battle - the mental strain, physical exhaustion, loneliness and violence - were devastating. This book studies the British Civil Wars from the perspective of those who fought them, to argue that the events described by G. M. Trevelyan as "the most important happening in our history" was also the most destructive. As the great military historian, John Keegan, writes (quite accurately) in his Foreword, "Carlton's civil war is war in all its dimensions. His book is . . . magnificent. It will be read, used, quoted and admired by historians of the English Civil War, and by military historians in general, for decades to come."