14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Finally, a Book Worthy of the Grave Subject,
This review is from: The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy (Hardcover)Another reviewer in this thread has pointed out that a broad frame general history of The Thirty Years War - one of the most savage, brutal, and overlooked conflicts in Europe's bloody history - has not been attempted since 1938. While I was not aware that it had taken so very long, I am not surprised. Sadly, most people would not know what the conflict was or when, or are inclined to dismiss it as just another series of "Wars of Religion." I am pleased to say that this fine work rectifies those grave errors.
This large book is subdivided into three sections - origins, the war itself, and long term impact. This very easy to understand chronological division is made even simpler because the author, in a welcome flauting of many modern standards of historical writing, also makes liberal use of chapter subdivisions. This makes the book, even when discussing multiple strands of subject matter at once, both readable and user-friendly. That was very welcome. This was a frightfully convoluted chapter in an already complex period of European history, and Wilson and his editors do their level best to make it as easy to comprehend as possible without doing injustice to the subject matter by needless abridgement or "dumbing down" the source materials.
The sources are lengthly and meticulously detailed. This is one of those books where the endnotes are as interesting as the text itself, making the comprehensive whole superior work.
I also enjoyed the fact that while Wilson, in my opinion, did not downplay the religious elements of the conflict, neither did he see them as necessarily dominant. This was a fresh approach and one, I think, long overdue. He also does great justice to the horrific human costs of the war and what, especially, the protracted conflict did to a prostrate and screaming Germany both in the long and short term.
A fine, fine book. A must for the avid Europeanist.
Recommended without reservation.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 5, 2009 5:25:04 PM PST
A customer says:
This is the fifth of five review of this book. Rarely on Amazon have I found such a useful set of reveiws as these first five. It is now 43 years since I first tackled Wedgewood (reprinted in an Anchor Paperback),and frankly, her account has remained standard all this time even though it was writen in the deteriorating situation of pre World War Two Europe. All I can say is that it is about time someone else took on the difficult task of writing an account of the Thirty Years War as a political, military, and social event.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2009 4:44:14 AM PST
William Alexander says:
Thank you. It's a fine book that obviously took a ton of hard, hard work, and I am sure you will enjoy it. Happy Holidays! :)
- Shaun Alexander
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