Thursday 18 April 2024

Another Review - Gripping, and Dripping with Details

I’m on an extended trip to India so the best I can offer at the moment is another book review.  So, cutting right to the chase, this is a truly absorbing and gripping account of Britain’s role in the War of the Austrian Succession (1744–1748). The author explores the consequences of the political decision making and management of the war on the outcome of the military operations, and indeed how the failure of the operations in the field influenced the politicking back home. Indifferent politicians, most of whom I am ashamed to say I had never heard of other than in the vaguest terms) often driven by their own agendas, competing priorities, the appointment of inadequate commanders and the general mishandling of the army, both British and |Hanoverian, all contributed to Britain’s failures in the war on a military, political and diplomatic basis. Add to these the impact of the Jacobite Rebellion and the strain this placed on British manpower it is all too easy to understand how the situation evolved and unravelled.(Interestingly the French may well have been the victors but they were to gain very little out of their efforts, and the stage was set for their failures in the Seven Years War some few years in the future, thanks in part to the lessons learnt by Britain).

I have some understanding of the battles of the war (the defeats, at the hands of the French, of Rocoux, Laffeldt and especially Fontenoy) but the author has conducted extensive research to present an exhaustive deep dive into the conduct of the war, resulting in a scholarly yet highly readable account of the war in its broader sense, which for me is far more interesting than simple accounts of its battles. Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps but for anyone seriously interested in the war this is an invaluable piece of research, and the conclusions the author draws from the outcome of the war are argued well.

The book includes a number of contemporary black and white portraits of the key actors in these events (it is always nice to put a face to a name, and these portraits often give an inkling into the character of the man portrayed). There are also several maps, of the theatre of war and of the three key battles of Fontenoy, Rocoux and Laffeldt, together with two reproductions of contemporary maps originating in 1747.

This is another fine addition (number 116 no less) to Helion’s ‘from Reason to Revolution 1721–1815 series and one well deserved of a space on my bookshelves.

ISBN 978-1-804513-37-8 Soft back 263 pages.


  1. Thanks for the review Colin. I always find the WAS more interesting than the SYW. The subordination of France's interest to those of Spain on the grounds of being related by marriage is fascinating. Another volume to add to the groaning bookshelves.

  2. That sound's to be a very important book. I played most of the battles - even the smaller encounters. Great to read that there is more to learn.