Monday, 20 August 2012

Seven Years War Project No.1

I've been considering this for a long while and I think things are getting closer to fruition, in other words the commencement of a new period.  As usual I do a lot of planning and reading (for years sometimes) before ordering figures and getting started - mainly because I'm not that motivated when it comes to painting.  However, the SYW has been floating around in my mind, particularly since I read (and am currently re-reading) Franz Szabo's The Seven Years War in Europe (published by Longman, 2007).
I'd really recommend this book, well, for a number of reasons, although mainly it's because it's fairly recently published and has drawn on a lot of original sources in German: Szabo being a Canadian of Austrian extraction.  This latter point is of note because he is no apologist for Frederick the 'Great' and in fact sticks the boot in with gusto (occasional comparisons with the approach to foreign policy shared by Prussia and the Third Reich do not seem out of place in fact).

Some critics (for example on the TMP 18th century forums) ascribe this to Szabo's Austrian roots and desire to promote Austrian successes, but the account I think is more accurate and more critical than previous historians and times have allowed, where the supposed greatness of Frederick and his military 'genius' have been exaggerated either for political reasons or simply because a full and objective review of the primary sources was not previously available to scholars.

The Szabo book just covers Europe (as though that's not enough to be getting on with) but I was interested in what was happening elsewhere, so I also got Daniel Baugh's book, The Global Seven Years War (also Longman, 2011).
I've not read it yet although it looks interesting (and we get two extra years thrown in!).  I'm hoping it will cover some of the more interesting actions in the colonies (and not just North America) and I think there'll be a lot on naval engagements too.

Finally, I should add that not content with reading about the Seven Years War, I thought I needed a bit of background reading and in fact today received this nice hard-back copy of Reed Brown's The War of the Austrian Succession (St Martin's Press, 1993), from a second hand bookshop in America (via Abe Books), and hence the prompt to post something about it all.
There are more recent books on the WAS (1740-1748) but Szabo recommends the Reed Brown book in a footnote early on in his tome and then mentions in passing that, oh yes, there's also something in the Longman's Modern Wars in Perspective series by Anderson (damned by faint praise).  So yes, plenty of inches to wade through.


Ray Rousell said...

That's a lot of reading, and welcome to my favourite period!

The Wishful Wargamer said...

Cheers Ray, there's a good 4 inches of reading to be done there (crossways). It'll take me 7 years to get through it all...!

Keith Flint said...

I have the Szabo book myself and found it convincing and thorough.

Nice to see someone who starts with research rather than figures and rules. Looking forward to seeing how this project develops - the best of luck with it.