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Be warned to appreciate this book to the fullest you have to have some knowledge of European History and Geography -- something too few people have to this day.
This is the best book written on the great Thirty Years War which reshaped European History and the map of Europe for many centuries. In fact it is only today that modern diplomats are tearing apart the Peace Of Westphalia and all that it means.
This is basically a classic European power struggle between Catholics and Protestants, Bourbon and Hapsburgs, The Holy Roman Empire vs. the rest of Europe. It involves some of the great names of European History -- Wallenstein, Tilly, Gustavus Adolphus, Richelieu, etc.
The book is very detailed and describes all the major battles in great detail as well as the political struggles between the various small duchies of Germany and electors. One of the results was to lead to the rise of the Hohenzollerns. The personalities of all the numerous leaders our described in great detail. and you listen with fascination to the various political machinations of the various leaders.
The brutality of the war is not overlooked either. One of the unfortunate aspects of the war was that is coincided with the period of Black Plague in Europe which wiped out soldiers, generals and citizens alike. As the armies roamed over Europe they looted, sacked and burned the cities. Her description of the destruction of Magdeburg is outstanding as this great city was burnt to the ground. Starvation became so great that there was evidence of canabilism among the desparate populace.
The Thirty Years War combined with the Black Plague wiped out over half to 2/3 the population of Europe. It left ruined cities, burned out villages, and fallow fields. It took centuries for Europe to recover from the aftermath of this great war. It was more devastating to Europe than was World War I or II.
No person interested in modern History should miss this book. There is no other book like it, but it may take some of you some background preparation to understand it. Above all you might want to print out a map of Europe in 1618 to have by you as a reference if you are not familiar with the names, places, and geography of Europe.
The reader is excellent. I don't think they could have chosen a better one to read this book. This is a book you will want to listen to several time to appreciate it, just like you have to read the original book several times to understand all the facts and nuances it contains.
I remember taking a course in this period of European History. This book was required reading - and you got tested on all the detail so you needed to read it through several times. But it so well written that reading and listening to it is an enjoyable experience. It is a work of literature as well as history -- too bad so few writers, can write as well as Wedgewood.
Don't be daunted by the size and complexity - take it a listen to in small bites if you have to - you won't be disappointed.
35 of 37 people found this review helpful
seriously, one of the best narrations I've ever heard & this topic (the thirty years war), a personal favorite of mine. I could not have asked for a better product and recommend it to ameture historians (such as myself) or anyone looking for a great story read very well.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I knew very little about the 30 years war before listening to this. It gave a good overview of the political machinations behind the was and made the conscious decision not to focus on the destruction.
This is a serious account of a tragic war, lots of detail, but would benefit from less intense reading style.
This was the first book I ever listened to on audible and I am still trying to match it. There are not many new ideas put forward in this book, no interesting innovations, or controversial opinions. Just a well spoken, well written, nuanced look at one of the most interesting events in European history.