Monday 5 February 2024

Catching up with Book Reviews

I like to think I am pretty conscientious when I complete these book reviews. Obviously what I might like is not guaranteed to be liked by everyone but I does me objective best.

I doubt anyone reading this review will be unaware of the name Professor Christopher Duffy nor will they be ignorant of his immense impact on our understanding of the conduct of warfare during the latter days of the Old Regime in Europe. The back catalogue of his books, over 20 of them, explores a vast range of subjects covering among others the Seven Years War, siege warfare and more. Many are viewed as the definitive works on their subject matter such as those dealing with the armies of Frederick the Great and Austria during the Seven Years War.

American historian, academic and author Dr Alexander Burns has accomplished a remarkable and frankly quite wonderful feat putting this book together, by combining 16 essays by well-known authors from around the world, focussing largely but not exclusively on eighteenth-century warfare.

This book, part of Helion’s ‘from Reason to Revolution 1721-1815’ series, celebrates the research and writing of Professor Duffy, and is an excellent means of honouring his legacy. The book contains four sections; the first covers ‘background and perspectives’ looking at the eighteenth century from a global point of view and Duffy’s impressive historiographical legacy. Part two examines commanders and their armies, with a wide range of subjects, including a study of the army of Wurttemberg, the crisis facing French cavalry in the Seven Years War to the development of irregular warfare across the eighteenth century. Part three is entitled ‘Voices from the Past’ and includes an analysis of previously unavailable contemporary accounts and letters, while the final part includes chapters on archaeological research among others, this being my favourite.

Every one of the 16 chapters make excellent reading in their own right, being well written, full of detail and, if warfare in eighteenth century is your ‘thing’, invaluable additions to honour Professor Duffy’s legacy.

ISBN 978-1-915070-38-8 Hardback 339 pages

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