Europe's Tragedy: A History of the Thirty Years War Hardcover – 30 Jul 2009
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Succeeds brilliantly ... His scholarship is remarkable, his prose light and lovely, his judgements fair (Paul Kennedy Sunday Times)
An ambitious and accomplished account, abreast of modern scholarship, has been overdue, and EUROPE'S TRAGEDY supplies it all admirably (Blair Worden Literary Review)
Magisterial ... a wise, wide-seeking account, tenaciously researched (Lauro Martines The Times Literary Supplement)
A history of prodicious erudition ... a definitive account has been needed, and now Peter Wilson has provided it (Jeffrey Collins Wall Street Journal)
A wonderfully comprehensive and detailed account (Tim Blanning Sunday Telegraph)
From the Publisher
Review from Paul Kennedy, Sunday Times:
`Peter Wilson is a brave man to undertake a new general survey of one of the most long-lasting, multi-dimensional and controversial wars of all time. It is a joy to report that, at least in this reviewer's opinion, Europe's Tragedy succeeds brilliantly ... His scholarship seems to me remarkable, his prose light and lovely, his judgments fair'See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Don't be too put off by my exhaustion - but be prepared!
A lot has changed since the greatest previous book on the war came out in 1938. There has been a copious amount of new research that just wasn't available then. Also, having been written after World War I the perspective is rather different. In some ways that helped of course, since both wars were so tragically pointless. This book is rather different from that one. While Wedgwood's book relied almost entirely on the chroniclers of the time, this book includes a better look at the war's causes. In fact, the war itself doesn't start until page 269. Wedgwood's book kind of reminded me of Gibbons, at least in the way she arranges her information quite clearly to add force to her thesis. Basically her thesis is that the war was a stupid waste that was caused by stupidity and greed for power. Even though I think her thesis works better that Gibbons', it still left a lot out that wasn't essential to her main point. In her defense, it was a relatively brief book at 536 pages (including bibliography). That's about half the size of this one. This book includes everything. I'm sure that even at this length it left many things but it feels complete.
I really appreciate the layout of this book. The chapters are long but they are divided into subsections every few pages which makes it easier to find a point to put it down. That's something that I wish more books would do. The divisions aren't forced either, so if you're on a boring topic a new one will come along shortly. The battles have pretty clear maps which show the layout of the opposing armies. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case they're right. Even though the battle descriptions are fairly brief, I feel that I understand them better than I did reading Wedgwood's book. There are also full-color pictures of all the major players in the war and several of the more important events. If you have any interest in this war I would strongly recommend this book. It might be a difficult read because of it's length, but it's worth the trouble.
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