Sunday 9 April 2023

More Reading on the Grand Procession #4

Actually, we’ve stopped ‘Processing’ for the time being and spent a very pleasant week in Bangalore meeting up with our large extended family, and Katherine’s friends and former colleagues from when she lived here. Lots of time for reading too.

Michal Paradowski has surely produced his best work to date in ‘Against the Deluge, Polish and Lithuanian armies during the war against Sweden 1655-1660’.

The book focuses primarily on the war against arch enemy Sweden, and how the Polish and Lithuanian armies were recruited, organised, equipped and fought. The book also covers the Cossack Revolt. What is fascinating is the way the Poles dragged themselves from almost complete defeat to victory, and how the war spread to include a significant number of European powers who threw in their lots with one side or the other (or in the case of Brandenburg, one then the other!).

As ever the narrative is filled with contemporary correspondence, largely diaries and letters many previously unseen, one of which sticks in my mind where a soldier recounts quite matter of factly how he and his comrades tried rather gruesomely to put a grievously wounded enemy out of his misery as an act of kindness! 

What I will say about this book is that it is an absolute cracker. Extensively researched using many new primary sources the book is filled with detail, contemporary accounts and illustrations, loads of useful maps (so often not the case in other publishers’ works), and a bumper selection of eighteen pages of specially commissioned colour paintings by Sergey Shamenkov, of uniforms and banners of the Polish forces. Every aspect of the conflict is explained in great detail, including chapters on the commanders, weapons, organisation and recruitment, and battles and skirmishes. There is more, including nine excellent appendices covering everything from lists of prisoners to orders of battle. 

It goes without saying that this book is an excellent and well presented account of a critical period in Poland’s history where she was fighting for her very existence assailed by enemy on all sides. It is a testament to the courage and determination of the Polish and Lithuanian armies that they prevailed, and Michal does a grand job in bringing this all to life. 

If you already have the author’s other books you will not want to miss this one. If you don’t have them you really should if this period of history interests you as much as it does me. A worthy addition to anyone’s library and well done Helion yet again for another super book!

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