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Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610-1715 [Hardcover]

John A. Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

June 13, 1997 0521572738 978-0521572736
An "invisible giant," the seventeeth-century French army was the largest and hungriest institution of the Bourbon monarchy; yet it has received incomplete treatment and is poorly understood. Combining social and cultural emphases with more traditional institutional and operational concerns, this book examines the army in depth, studying recruitment, composition, discipline, motivation, selection of officers, leadership, administration, logistics, weaponry, tactics, field warfare, and siegecraft. The portrait that emerges differs from what current scholarship might have predicted. Instead of claiming that a "military revolution" transformed warfare, Lynn stresses evolutionary change. Questioning widely-held assumptions about state formation and coercion, he argues that this standing army was primarily devoted to border defense, and only rarely to internal repression.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"John Lynn's Giant of the Grand Siecle is a giant of a book..." M.J. Carley, H-France Review of Books

"A valuable work for anyone interested in the Age of Louis XIV or the French Army going into the eighteenth century." A.A. Noft, The NYMAS Newsletter

"...a masterful work which will serve as a landmark for future military historians." Paul Sonino, H-France Review of Books

"John Lynn's Giant of the gRand Siecle is a giant of a book, not only in length but also in substance." Paul Sonnino, H-Net Reviews

"...this work is encyclopedic, unfailingly interesting, and beautifully researched and written. Indispensable for all modern European collections." G.P. Cox, Choice

"...a useful reference tool for those of us in French language and literature." Joseph L. Allaire, The French Review

"This book is a comprehensive study of the French army during the seventeenth century and its place in the history of state-building....Lynn offers carefully nuanced revisions of many standard views concerning the military origins of absolutism, the nature of the military revolution, and the alleged modernity of Louis XIV's army...this book...admirably achieves its goal of forcing us to confront directly the massive significance of the army." William Beik, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"...this is a fine, thick book with clear organization and exhaustive use of the manuscript and printed sources that will allow historians to refer to it with confidence for many years." The Historian

Every historian of the seventeenth century who attempts to understand the entirety of that turbulent time must have this book on his bookshelf or suffer the consequences of incomplete knowledge and a crippling blind spot." Army History

"This is a valuable book...highly recommended for both the scholar and the novice." Frederick C. Schneid, American Historical Review

Book Description

The seventeenth-century French army was the largest Bourbon institution; yet it has received incomplete treatment. Combining social and cultural emphases with institutional and operational concerns, this book provides a detailed analysis. The portrait that emerges differs from what current scholarship might have predicted. Instead of claiming that a "military revolution" transformed warfare, Lynn stresses evolutionary change. Questioning widely-held assumptions about state formation and coercion, he argues that this standing army was primarily devoted to border defense, and only rarely to internal repression.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521572738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521572736
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,172,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Example of the "New Military History" February 12, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
John A. Lynn, preeminent scholar of French military history, and logistics, prior to the nineteenth century, offers a follow-up to his classic: _Bayonets of the Republic:..._ (1984). Here he argues the French Army of the Grand Siecle (seventeenth century) was the catalyst for state formation. Reminiscent of the tail wagging the dog, Lynn argues, it was military expansion, and reforms that formed a model for the state. However, he emphasizes that this expansion was not revolutionary. Instead, development grew incrementally out of older practices. As a result, there remained a continuity of "absolutism" during this period, not a break from it, as is the common belief among some historians. Essentially, Lynn shows how the French monarchy raised regiments, without regard for how they would be fed or supplied. They were then turned loose on the rural French countryside with sometimes disastrous results.The author utilizes a thematic approach to take the reader on what he calls a "journey of understanding." The author devotes substantial coverage to economics and finance. In fact, the majority of the book focuses on economic and social history of the Army of the Grand Siecle with heavy emphasis on logistics and supply. These topics takes precedence over the standard fare of strategy, tactics, campaigns and battles. Even the section devoted to weapons tends to stress supply above technology. Throughout this intricate tapestry of subject matter, Lynn challenges arguments laid down by other military historians. For example, it is not surprising that Lynn, who has written widely on the topic of logistics, has harsh criticisms levelled at Martin Van Creveld, author of _Supplying War: Logistics from Wellington to Patton_ (Cambridge: 1977). Read more ›
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