Professor Parrott's work on the logistical side of Early Modern recruiting and procurement is a much needed addition to the corpus of literature on the Early Modern state and Early Modern warfare. Seeking to overturn long-standing assumptions about the quality of "mercenary" soldiers and fleets, Parrott explores the possibility, rarely acknowledged by historians, that early modern states could often effectively wage war with armies and fleets raised by contract. The interaction between monarchs, state bureaucracy, the recruiting captains, and the soldiers themselves has never been so well examined, and is informed by Parrott's wide focus across multiple states. In challenging the assumption that contract armies of this period were not wholly ineffective and cutthroat bands, Parrott also challenges a progressive notion that the state's control over recruitment, procurement, training, and discipline was a forgone conclusion; instead Parrott offers different criteria to assess the military efficacy of the armies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries within the context of their times, and it suggests that states often found this system to be more effective than other methods of mobilization and deployment. It suggests in some cases a complimentary relationship between recruiters and their contract holders, one that was not as antithetical as has been suggested, and between soldiers and their paymasters.
The result is that Parrott's work may alter the understanding of the "Military Revolution" thesis, and suggest revisions to our understanding of the "mercenary" who has become a byword for Early Modern warfare. The book also examines the processes of the logistical tasks carried out by both private captains and state bureaucracy, and focuses on coordination as well as dissent between these two interwoven agencies.
A much needed Academic work to breathe more life into this period, I recommend it highly. The conclusions are controversial in some cases, but this has never been a subject without controversy. Indeed, in an age when discussions of private military forces are growing and in some cases being implemented, this read gives a vital insight to the age old problem of feeding Mars and highlights the solutions found by Europe's states, for better or worse, in the Early Modern world.