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The Williamite Wars in Ireland [Paperback]

John Childs
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: £26.99
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Book Description

13 Mar 2008
This title provides an authoritative account of the wars between Britain and Ireland in the 17th century.William III's defeat of James II's Catholic army at the Battle of the Boyne on 1 July 1690 ended the Stuart dynasty's last hope of survival. It has also been central, together with the siege of Londonderry, to the foundation myth of Northern Ireland. John Childs, the leading military historian of the period, gives a clear and authoritative account of the campaign in all its stages.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Hambledon Continuum (13 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847251641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847251640
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 16.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

John Childs is Professor of Military History and Director of the Centre for Military History in the University of Leeds. He has written a series of books on Early Modern European armies and warfare, including The Nine Years' War and the British Army, 1688-1697 and Warfare in the Seventeenth Century.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Military History at it's best 17 Dec 2012
By Bazz
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant. As far as I know this is the only available single volume book that describe William's wars in Ireland in their entirety and in some detail. It is not so much a broad political history book than an operational military history. So if you like the smell of gunpowder and detailed descriptions of endless skirmishes and ambushes and get a real feel for the conflict this is a book you will enjoy (Wargamers in particular should love it!). I read it from cover to cover in no time and wished that the book had twice as many pages.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The overthrow of King James II during the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 is one of the key events of not just English history but Irish history as well. As king, James had pursued a policy of 'Catholicization' in Ireland, allowing Catholics to serve in the army and the government, which fueled anxieties among the Protestant population. When news reached them of the dramatic events in England, the Protestants began defying the Catholic authorities, who responded to what soon became an uprising against Catholic rule. The result was three of the bloodiest and most destructive years in Irish history, as the island served as the battlefield on which broader struggles were waged. This war is the subject of John Childs's book, which details the campaigns from the initial unrest to the conclusion of the conflict.

Childs traces the success of the rebellion to the two-week period in 1688 when Derry was without a garrison, arguing that had the town been continuously occupied and the Protestants there suppressed the rebellion could not have prospered. Yet even with Derry the Protestants faced a difficult first year, as the more numerous Catholic forces gradually asserted control throughout the island. By the summer, only Derry and Enniskillen remained as Protestant holdouts, yet the arrival of forces under the command of Marshal Schomberg managed to secure most of Ulster before the end of the campaigning season. The new year saw an increased commitment of forces against the Catholics, one led by King William III himself. With William's army pressing down from the north, the two sides clashed at the Battle of the Boyne, which broke James's fragile resolve.
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By TR
Format:Paperback
The biggest problem with this book is the author's unwillingness to separate events central to the outcome from what can be described as background noise, especially small expeditions to put down raparees almost anywhere. That is not to say that overall the effort against such irregular forces was not important, but it has been a continual cause of confusion to realise half-way through paragraphs that the narrative has leapt without preliminaries from a description of a major siege, to a minor incident on the other side of Ireland. Another problem is the introduction of important players without explanation of their role or significance; presumably, not every reader knows that the Marquis of Carmarthen, the erstwhile Earl of Danby, was Lord President of the Council, and effective First Minister, for a large part of the reign of William III, but quotes from his correspondence are given without any explanation. The book would have benefitted greatly from a collection of short biographies of important figures. The maps are simply inadequate in every way with for example, key features described in the text absent from maps of towns under siege. It is perhaps inevitable that victor's accounts predominate, but apart from an effort to look at an incident through the eyes of both sides near the start of the book, the Williamite version is presented as truth throughout. The book is not all bad, and most descriptions of the major sieges and battles are clear and insightful, where they can be disentangled from the background noise already mentioned.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on the wars in Ireland 29 Jun 2010
By Ian
Format:Paperback
This book by John Childs is a comprehensive history of the wars in Ireland in the late 1600s. It feels like every skirmish and every engagement have been covered in thorough detail. Excellent if you are a serious student of this period of Irish history.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3.0 out of 5 stars A detailed account marred by a dense text and poor maps 22 Feb 2010
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The overthrow of King James II during the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 is one of the key events of not just English history but Irish history as well. As king, James had pursued a policy of "Catholicization" in Ireland, allowing Catholics to serve in the army and the government, which fueled anxieties among the Protestant population. When news reached them of the dramatic events in England, the Protestants began defying the Catholic authorities, who responded to what soon became an uprising against Catholic rule. The result was three of the bloodiest and most destructive years in Irish history, as the island served as the battlefield on which broader struggles were waged. This war is the subject of John Childs's book, which details the campaigns from the initial unrest to the conclusion of the conflict.

Childs traces the success of the rebellion to the two-week period in 1688 when Derry was without a garrison, arguing that had the town been continuously occupied and the Protestants there suppressed the rebellion could not have prospered. Yet even with Derry the Protestants faced a difficult first year, as the more numerous Catholic forces gradually asserted control throughout the island. By the summer, only Derry and Enniskillen remained as Protestant holdouts, yet the arrival of forces under the command of Marshal Schomberg managed to secure most of Ulster before the end of the campaigning season. The new year saw an increased commitment of forces against the Catholics, one led by King William III himself. With William's army pressing down from the north, the two sides clashed at the Battle of the Boyne, which broke James's fragile resolve. His flight left his supporters with no other option than an attrition campaign that could buy them time in the hope that William might suffer defeats elsewhere that would salvage the situation for them.

Childs's book is primarily an operational history of the conflict that carefully traces the numerous skirmishes which characterized the "war of posts and ambuscades". This results in a dense text, one that makes it challenging to follow the sequence of events. Making matters worse are the inadequate maps provided, which provide only basic geographic details, rendering them less than helpful in following the various battles and campaigns. Better maps and subheadings within the chapters would have gone far into providing a more accessible history of the war than the one Childs has written, in which the value of his examination of the conflict is offset by its inaccessibility.
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