This audiobook examines the meteoric rise of Sweden as the pre-eminent military power in Europe during the Thirty Years War during the 1600s, and then follows its line of warrior kings into the next century until the Swedes finally meet their demise, in an overreach into the vastness of Russia. A small Scandinavian nation, with at most one and a half million people and scant internal resources of its own, there was small logic to how Sweden could become the dominant power on the Continent. That Sweden achieved this was due to its leadership - a case-study in history when pure military skill, and that alone, could override the demographic and economic factors which have in modern times been termed so pre-eminent. Once Protestantism emerged, via Martin Luther, the most devastating war in European history ensued, as the Holy Roman Empire sought to reassert its authority by force. Into this bloody maelstrom stepped Gustav Adolf of Sweden, a brilliant tactician and strategist, who with his finely honed Swedish legions proceeded to establish a new authority in northern Europe. Gustav, as brave as he was brilliant, was finally killed while leading a cavalry charge at the Battle of Ltzen. He had innovated, however, tactics and weaponry that put his successors in good stead, as Sweden remained a great power, rivaled only by France and Spain in terms of territory in Europe. And then one of his successors, Karl XII, turned out to be just as great a military genius as Gustav himself, and as the year 1700 arrived, Swedish armies once more burst out in all directions. Karl, like Gustav, assumed the throne while still a teenager, but immediately displayed so much acumen, daring and skill that chroniclers could only compare him, like Gustav, to Alexander the Great. This book examines thoroughly, yet in highly readable fashion, the century during which Swedish military power set an example for all Europe.
©2014 Henrik O. Lunde (P)2014 Audible Inc.
This is not a bad book at all but it only deals with the military aspects of the dynasty and doesn't give you a full picture of what life was like. I think that if it had dealt with everyday life more and how the country was formed into where Sweden is now it would have been a far more captivating read. As it is, the book just comes across as an almanac of different non connected battles and historic written events, which unfortunately makes it feel quite shallow. That said this is a great book for military buffs who just want to have a reference for military events.
At the outset of the book, Lunde explains the dearth of historiography on Sweden's waxing and waning military fortunes in 17th century, and takes a fair stab at explaining why that gap ought to be filled with in-depth archival research across Central and Northern Europe. He then confesses that he hasn't looked at these archives because he doesn't have the language skills, and that he will rely mainly on secondary sources (which he claimed didn't exist). In other words he suggests what a book on this topic ought to do, and then explains that he didn't actually write that book. Why bother continuing?
No, the writing is vintage 1st year grad seminar writing (and poor at that).
I would have subbed the author out for a competent historian.
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