Tuesday 18 June 2024

The King and his Fortresses

This recent publication from the Helion stable is more than a little niche but no less fascinating for that. Frederick the Great must be one of the most written about figures of the eighteenth century, but this examination of Prussian permanent fortifications during the period 1740 to 1786 by Grzegorz Podruczny is definitely something that takes in a very different perspective of the king and warfare during his eventful reign, and is not an angle I have encountered before. The author is well placed to provide us with the definitive account of Frederick and his policy towards fortresses within the kingdom having researched and written on the subject in depth over many years.

Much of the first part of this rather large book focusses on the Prussian state during Frederick’s reign and the science of fortress construction and siege warfare. This does well paving the way for the comprehensive  description of Prussian fortresses during the Silesian and Seven Years’ Wars. This is the true heart of the book and is a tremendously detailed analysis of the subject. 

The book contains a large number of contemporary and modern day black and white illustrations and drawings, as well as several photographs of surviving fortresses (or surviving parts of them at least) and these certainly help focus the reader on illustrating and understanding the complexities of fortress building and indeed siege and counter-siege warfare. For anyone wishing to delve deeper into the subject the author has included an impressive bibliography.

Overall, this is a book that will satisfy the interests of readers with an interest in eighteenth century seige warfare and fortress design and construction, whether it be focussed just on Frederick of Prussia or on a wider basis across Europe. I found this to be a very interesting and not too technical read, and one where I felt my knowledge and understanding was definitely improved. 

ISBN978-1-804514-35-1  softback, 383 pages

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