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Wallenstein, His Life Narrated Hardcover – 1976
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The ineptitude of the Emperor and imperial policy in general was thrown into high relief by this able Generalissimo and organiser of men and means. Wallenstein relied on his own realms of finely tuned economy to fit and supply the imperial army, his ruthlessness in the expropriation of estates was at least somewhat tempered by his transforming, organisational ability that made him seem more economically compatible with the Dutch and Hanseatic League. His enemies at court exagerated those similarities of outlook, invented others, criticised his lack of religious zeal and conservative military tactics, until the spoils of the Great Duke became too tempting for a near bankrupt imperial exchequer. Would not the blackening of Wallenstein with treason be a sure way of becoming solvent and saving imperial face? Golo Mann tells all this and more; his narrative envelopes these inner developments of increasing desperation with a broad overview of the European situation, making this a vindicating biography and magisterial history of the first half of the Thirty Years War.
It is Mann's genius to strip this argument bare, leaving only the chill calculation and bravura wickedness of this evil man. Gorgeously written, fully of witty detail and laconoic comment, "Wallenstein" is a fascinating journey into the mind of a monster in a monstrous time.