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The Thirty Years' War Paperback – February 13, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0415128834 ISBN-10: 0415128838 Edition: 2nd
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Editorial Reviews


...with this book as our guide, we are now in a position to understand more fully the long 'European Civil War' which did much to shape the course of the history of the continent as a whole.
History Today

This new book...is most welcome: thorough, scholarly, up-to-date, it makes the murky period as clear as anything ever will...It is a swift-moving general account that misses no essentials, while not allowing itself to get bogged down in details.
Wilson Library Bulletin

The book successfully provides a clear and balanced...explanation of what happened between 1618 and 1648...this is political history in the classic mold.
The Sixteenth Century Journal

The best book we have on the Thirty Years' War.
History Teaching Review

A judicious, lively, enlightening and, above all, highly serviceable work for which scholars, students and the general public will be grateful.
Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Geoffrey Parker is Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (February 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415128838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415128834
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Leif A. Torkelsen on July 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Parker is quite simply one of the most thoughtful and talented military historians out there. His works are always profound and thought-provoking. However, in this instance, he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
The ugly fact is that the Thirty Years' War is a conflict of incredible complexity. No one book can capture all elements of this war. It is quite simply the historian's Gordian Knot, and even Parker cannot do it all in one book.
The bottom line? If you are a military historian, this is a very good book. However, Parker's own "The Military Revolution" and Dodge's classic biography of Gustavus Adolphus (really a history of European military tactics from 1600-1712) do the job better, especially as compliments to one another. For a political history, Ronald Asch does a better job in his history of the Thirty Years' War from the Hapsburg perspective(especially when combined with the Dodge book on Gustavus). In contrast, Parker's political history gets buried beneath too much detail (thereby running the risk of missing the forest for the trees).
Folks, don't let the complexity of the Thirty Years' War scare you. It is a fascinating conflict, one that is essential to understanding European history, military evolution and the emergence of the modern state. If you've got the stomach to read two or more books on the subject, you will be richly rewarded. Taken in conjunction with other works, Parker's book can add enormously to one's understanding of a seminal event in world history.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a concise introduction to the Thirty Years War. It is written primarily by Geoffrey Parker, though he recruited expert colleagues to assist on some chapters. Parker is a careful editor, as the book has a uniform style and reads like a single author text. I suspect its target audience is advanced undergraduates, and grad students and scholars specializing in other areas seeking an entry into the extensive literature on the Thirty Years War. It is not a comprehensive and detailed narrative history. Military history aficionados, in particular, will be disappointed because there is little coverage of campaigns and battles. There is, however, a nice chapter analyzing the nature of warfare during the Thirty Years War. The book is devoted primarly to political history, diplomatic history, and the structural effects of the Thirty Years War on the European State System and the organization of individual states. These topics are addressed very well. Of particular interest to the authors is the question of why the Thirty Years War lasted so long. Wars were very common in Early Modern Europe both before and after this conflict but usually of shorter duration. The answer(s) appear to be a combination of factors including changes in military technology, the organizational immaturity of states that precluded decisive victory, the religous dimension of the war, and unwillingness of key actors to compromise. Often presented as a pointless and exhausting conflict, the Thirty Years War did produce lasting effects; for example, the Austrian Hapsburgs would never again try to impose hegemony on Germany. In exchange, however, their grip on the core lands of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary tightened.Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Gibby VINE VOICE on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Parker can have one epitaph: concise. A lot of information is packed into this edited history of the 30 Years War. The reader may feel that he or she is not getting the full treatment, but it is all there. Of significant note and contribution is the exposure of the many facets of cause and continuation of the war; religion played a key role, but the war gave birth to national identities that eventual consumed confessional politics. A lot of attention is given to on the surface "irrational" behavior by generals and potentates, and this is the first place I've seen an objective perspective from both sides during the first decade of decision. This makes a great case study for analyzing grand and military strategy. Tactics and operations are not ignored, but rather they figure into their proper place. It was intrigue and financial systems that determined the outcome, not decisive battles or campaigns.
There is a unique aberation, though. The section entitled "Total War" doesn't give much on totality in the modern sense that we think of total war. Particularly since the last section tells how France could not wage anything but small war until the 1640s.
Despite that, the reader gets the sense of the true scope of conflict: from the Iberian peninsula to the fringe of the Ottoman Empire; from south of the Alps to the northern reaches of Sweden. The war was not just a German affair, nor did it result in just a German solution.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Parker is excellent as usual, providing in-depth insight and an engaging style. Novices to the topic might also wish to consult his "Europe in Crisis" or "Dutch Revolt" texts. It's difficult to find a good and unbiased investigation into the Catholic/Habsburg side elsewhere. The "one star" review is a gross misjudgement - it goes without saying that a book of this type may be too complex for someone with no experience at all with the seventeenth century, but a history can't spend all of its time on explanatory hand-holding. As for stylistic criticism, it's difficult to find history as good as Parker's written as well, let alone better.
If Parker is too "complex," "boring" or "complicated," it is likely that the topic simply will not be of interest to you no matter who writes it. A 50 page chapter in a textbook is only a meaningless gloss.
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