A fascinating book, though not without its issues - some weird formatting errors in the Kindle edition so that some sections repeat, and some very archaic and flowery language. But the story triumphs over these shortcomings. I didn't know much about this - I don't think many people in England do. It's an amazing dramatic story of a mass popular uprising that almost won, and would have changed the entire history of Europe if it had. But of course it ends in defeat and tragedy, and like all the best tragedies we can see it coming even though the participants can't. Some episodes in the story are aching to be made into a movie.
A number of elements from the defeat are worth mentioning. First, the peasants were defeated in part because there was no co-ordination between the different uprisings. The nobles were able to pick them off one at a time. Next time someone talks about how it's possible to have a successful revolution without leadership, remember this. The peasant soldiers were facing a better trained and armed enemy, but it's worth noting that there were places where peasant infantry successfully defeated noble cavalry - the Swiss are the obvious example. Secondly, the peasants were too easily fooled by the nobles, who went through the motions of negotiating concessions while they gathered their forces. It seems that they were still fixated on getting a better deal from their overlords rather than doing away with them. Thirdly, the peasants were fatally compromised by lack of discipline. Every time they successfully stormed a castle or monastery they went on a bender with the contents of the wine cellar. Alcohol and revolutionary politics don't mix well, to the detriment of the latter. Fourthly, the nobles were of course not 'noble' at all - they won through treachery and bribery, and they celebrated their victory with mass executions, torture, and confiscations. Monsters all, and their present-day descendants would do the same if they could.
I have read a lot about the 30-years war, but not so much about the Peasants' War, which preceded it. This book contains a lot of detail which I had never read before, including some little-known insights about Martin Luther, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.