Home Forums Horse and Musket 18th Century SYW book recommendation, please

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  • #14517
    Noel
    Participant

    Gentle-people,

     

    I am completely new to SYW and would like some reading suggestions for an overview of the war. I see that Duffy gets mentioned a lot, however the second hand market for many of his books are a bit steep for someone new.

     

    Thanks in advance

     

    #14519
    Sparker
    Participant

    Hi Noel.

    Yes, Duffy can be expensive second hand, but well worth the expense – and his current publishers don’t seem to understand that you actually have to publish and distribute the books before people can buy them! Otherwise I can heartily recommend Dennis Showalter’s ‘Frederick the Great’- definitely written from a military history standpoint as an overview of the whole war and subsequent ‘Potato War’. Matter of fact I’d recommend anything by Dennis! I also find the various Osprey campaigns pretty good, if you want to look at each battle in more detail, written by a serving British Army officer, and it shows.

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #14536
    Hwiccee
    Participant

    I would echo what has been said about Duffy – his stuff is the well worth the expense. But I would recommend you leave his books until later. His works concentrate on the Eastern theatre (Austria/Prussia/Russia) and doesn’t really cover the Western theatre (Britain and allies/France). Duffy does cover all aspects of these campaigns in a balanced way, rather than others (Frederick fan boy works) which just repeat old ideas.

    Unfortunately many of the other works mentioned are also basically Frederick fan boy works. I would add to the list given – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Seven-Years-War-Europe/dp/0582292727/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top. This is a good account of the whole European war and connects the various theatres well. It is very negative concerning Frederick which many readers don’t like, but is a useful other view point to balance against the ‘fan boy’ point of view. I would recommend it as a good overview, although I would be cautious about agreeing with some of the view on Frederick (but then the same is true for me for the ‘fan boy’ works).

    The other book I have heard of as being good, but I haven’t actually read, is this book – http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Global-Seven-Years-1754-1763/dp/0582092396/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=19AH2GJ1E2XZND9KRWJ1. This focuses on the Britain/France war and covers the worldwide conflict.

    #14546
    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    Here you go: the Osprey Guide to the Seven Years War, all of 98p
    http://www.ospreypublishing.com/store/The-Seven-Years-War_9781472809926

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    #14563
    Sparker
    Participant

    Unfortunately many of the other works mentioned are also basically Frederick fan boy works.

    Gosh! I’m assuming you haven’t actually read Showalter’s work?

    If Dennis is a ‘fanboy’ than I hate to think what a critical writer would have to say about Frederick the Great! He did win some battles after all, no?

    However I can of course understand why the Ospreys, written as they were by a serving officer with operational experience, would be lost on armchair experts, he does tend to emphasise the challenges of operational decision making, with all the burdens of national command responsibilities, with only an uncertain view over the ‘other side of the hill’and without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

    Hardly the stuff of true military history -what!

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #14583
    willz
    Participant

    Noel G hope these help.

    I can recommend  this web page for Seven years War information,

    http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Main_Page

    Or try this one http://leuthenjournal.blogspot.co.uk/p/links.html

    If you want to get a feel of the period I would recommend “John Rays” A Military Gentleman, Whilst not cheap it is worth every penny, plus if you purchase the book you can join the forum which has a growing data base of useful information on the seven years War period.

    Also try “Charles Grant” series of books beginning with the Raid on St Michel, these books are based on an imagination campaign but gives you the feel of the Seven Years War.

     

     

    #14594
    Noel
    Participant

    Thank you.  I will check these out.

    #14660
    Hwiccee
    Participant

    Unfortunately many of the other works mentioned are also basically Frederick fan boy works.
    Gosh! I’m assuming you haven’t actually read Showalter’s work?

    Yes I have read Showalter but it was some time ago now, when it first came out. Unfortunately I also don’t have it to hand at the moment. I had not really intended to include it in the ‘fan boy’ category, although some would – see below. My main point about this book is it is not a book about the SYW but a book about Frederick. As I remember things it doesn’t really cover the war away from him, including a lot of what happens with the war in the East but which doesn’t feature him.

    If Dennis is a ‘fanboy’ than I hate to think what a critical writer would have to say about Frederick the Great! He did win some battles after all, no?

    Ah well I guess you haven’t read the Szabo book I mentioned or indeed many others on this subject from the non English speaking world. For various reasons the English speaking world works generally are the most pro Frederick, works in other languages, including German, are generally a lot more negative about him.

    Szabo doesn’t help his case with his obvious dislike of Frederick personally but his work is similar to many in non English languages. Szabo’s view could be summarise as Prussia survived the SYW, rather than won it. Prussia did this despite what Frederick did, rather than because of what he did. Szabo is by no means the most critical, at least about Frederick’s military ability, as some other works. So overall Showalter is probably pro Frederick when you look at the complete set of views, but he is one of the most negative from the English speaking world.

    Before I move on I should say that Szabo’s work is good mainly because it links all the various theatres of the war together. It doesn’t just talk about Frederick but also what the other Prussian armies are doing. It links his campaigns in with the British/French campaigns and the relatively obscure campaigns in the east – the Recih army and Swedes being good examples.

    However I can of course understand why the Ospreys, written as they were by a serving officer with operational experience, would be lost on armchair experts, he does tend to emphasise the challenges of operational decision making, with all the burdens of national command responsibilities, with only an uncertain view over the ‘other side of the hill’and without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

    Hardly the stuff of true military history -what!

    I am afraid I am not really certain which of the various writers on this era published by Osprey you are talking about and so I will just talk in general terms. Indeed I am not sure I have actually seen all of the Ospreys on this period. I think such a work as you describe is exactly what everyone should be reading and not just ‘armchair experts’. But there is I think no chance that any Osprey will ever do this. Ospreys are usually 50 to 100 small pages with many pictures and other illustrations. It is almost certainly not possible to do what you suggest in their format and I have never seen any that even remotely come near to this.

    Such a work as you suggest would be good in another format but there is absolutely no reason why a serving officer with operational experience would be any better than any one else at doing this. There are not many writers, serving officers or others, who have much experience of the burdens of national command. They could have some useful insights and skills from their experiences but they are also are likely to have others that do not and to lack other required skills.

    The main problem with works in English is not the things you mention but that they often don’t realise that there are two (or more) sides to the hill. Works in English are dominated by the self-seeking words of Frederick himself and ‘fan boy’ works using mainly English language sources. The situation is getting better but far too many still use mainly English sources – Ospreys are generally terrible for this. The bibliography of good works on this era you should see that the vast majority of sources are not in English.

    #15600
    Graham Cummings
    Participant

    I am a little late to this debate but the Journals Of Horace St.Paul, written and translated by Neil Cogswell are a very informative series of books. St. Paul, an Englishman, was on the staff of the Austrian General Daun and therefore give a non. Frederick approach to the campaigns and and actions. There is a wealth of detail, o.o.b’s etc and are an easy read.

    Yes I stock the majority of the series although not listed on my web site and Caliver books has reprinted and published the two books that were o.o.p.

    message me if you would like some more information.

    Graham

    #21706

    Hi, here is the bibliography of the books on my shelves:

    http://olicanalad.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/my-18c-books.html

    I have yet to find a good general overview of the entire war, probably because it was so big – the real First World War?

    My whoring and daubing:
    http://olicanalad.blogspot.co.uk/

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