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Book Review of Peter the Great and the West: New Perspectives

Posted by William Young on January 24, 2013

International History

Lindsey Hughes, editor. Peter the Great and the West: New Perspectives. Studies in Russia and East Europe series. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 978-0-333-92009-1. Tables. Maps. Illustrations. Notes. Index. Pp. xxiv, 280. $115.00 (hardcover).

Lindsey HughesPeter I (the Great) of Russia is the subject of numerous biographies and academic studies.  Historians have focused on his life, reforms, and wars that resulted in Russia’s emergence as a Great Power in the Baltic Region.  The late Dr Lindsey Hughes, Professor of Russian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, collected and edited a number of essays by leading historians of Russia focusing on recent research on the reign of Peter the Great.  Hughes is known for her studies including Russia and the West: The Life of a Seventeenth-Century Westernizer, Prince Vasily Vasil’evich Golitsyn (1643-1714) (1984), Sophia: Regent of Russia, 1657-1704 (1990), Russia in the Age of Peter…

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Posted in Book Reviews, Early Modern European (1648-1792) | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Book Review of The Continental Commitment: Britain, Hanover and Interventionism, 1714-1793

Posted by William Young on January 15, 2013

International History

Jeremy Black. The Continental Commitment: Britain, Hanover and Interventionism, 1714-1793. Abingdon, England: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 978-0-415-36292-4. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xiv, 214. $168.00 (hardcover).

Jeremy BlackDr Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter in England, is well-known as a diplomatic and military historian.  He has written numerous books and journal articles.  One of his many areas of expertise is British foreign policy in the eighteenth century.  As such, in this work, Black explores the British continental commitment and interventionism in the diplomatic alliances and conflicts of the eighteenth century.  George I (1714-1727), George II (1727-1760), and George III (1760-1820) were all Kings of Britain and Electors of Hanover.  Black attempts to show the influence, if any, of the British monarchy’s interests in the Electorate of Hanover in the formulation and conduct of British foreign policy.  The author is known for such studies as A System of Ambition? British Foreign Policy…

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Posted in Book Reviews, Early Modern European (1648-1792) | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Book Review of The War of American Independence, 1775-1783

Posted by William Young on December 20, 2012

Richard Middleton. The War of American Independence, 1775-1783. Modern Wars in Perspective series. Harlow, England: Pearson Education, 2012. ISBN 978-0-582-22942-6. Maps. Notes. Appendix. Bibliography. Pp. xvi, 351. $44.00.

Dr Richard Middleton provides a superb up-to-date synthesis of published primary works and modern historical studies focusing on the political, military, naval, and diplomatic aspects of the War of American Independence (1775-1783).  Middleton is an independent scholar and a former Reader in American History at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  He is the author of The Bells of Victory: The Pitt-Newcastle Ministry and the Conduct of the Seven Years War, 1757-1762 (1985), Colonial America, A History, 1565-1776 (Third edition, 2002), and Pontiac’s War: Its Causes, Course and Consequences (2007).

Middleton depicts the origins, course, and outcome of the War of American Independence.  The author focuses on the leadership of the Britain, the Patriots and Loyalists, France, and Spain.  He emphasizes British strategy (when it existed) over tactics in his narrative.  The study covers military operations from Lexington and Concord (1775) to the battle and British surrender at Yorktown (1781).  Middleton is outstanding in bringing in the naval dimensions of the conflict.  Moreover, the work is valuable for his discussion of the international aspect concerning the Franco-American alliance (1778) and Franco-Spanish operations against British interests.  Britain had to contend with a possible Franco-Spanish invasion of the British Isles, the siege of Gibraltar, and threats to the British West Indies.  The lack of an ally, the opposition of the League of Armed Neutrality, and the outbreak of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) contributed to British difficulties.  British military, naval, and financial resources were stretched thin.  In fact, financial difficulties endured by Britain, the Patriots, France, and Spain encouraged an end to the conflict.  Middleton continues his narrative after the surrender at Yorktown to discuss operations in the Caribbean and Gibraltar leading up to the Treaties of Paris and Versailles (1783), ending with the British recognition of American independence and an end to the British conflict with France and Spain.  In his conclusion, the author stresses the importance of France in the outcome of the War of American Independence.  He writes: “After six campaigns, Britain and the United States were like two exhausted boxers.  Neither was able to inflict a decisive blow on the other . . . .  It required a third combatant, France, to end the stalemate, a fact too often neglected by American writers . . . .” (p.321).  Middleton stresses that France and Spain set the war’s agenda after 1778 forcing Britain to respond to the actions of the Bourbon powers.

The War of American Independence, 1775-1783 is an outstanding survey of the conflict.  Middleton provides a fascinating study that will interest readers that enjoy military, naval, and diplomatic affairs.  The study is highly recommended.  Other studies that concentrate on these aspects of the conflict include Stephen Conway’s The War of American Independence, 1775-1783 (1995), Jonathan R. Dull’s A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1985), Piers Mackesy’s, The War for America, 1775-1783 (1964), Hamish M. Scott’s British Foreign Policy in the Age of the American Revolution (1990), Donald Stoker, Kenneth J. Hagan, and Michael T. McMaster’s Strategy in the American War of Independence: A Global Approach (2010), William C. Stinchcombe’s The American Revolution and the French Alliance (1969), Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert’s, Diplomacy and Revolution: The Franco-American Alliance of 1778 (1981), and Jonathan R. Dull’s, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774-1787 (1975).

Dr William Young
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota


Posted in American Military History, Book Reviews, Early Modern European (1648-1792) | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Book Review of The Projection and Limitations of Imperial Powers, 1618-1850

Posted by William Young on December 17, 2012

International History

Frederick C. Schneid, editor. The Projection and Limitations of Imperial Powers, 1618-1850. History of Warfare series. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012. ISBN 978-90-04-22671-5. Notes. Index. Pp. xiv, 224. $144.00 (hardcover).

Frederick C. SchneidDr Frederick C. Schneid, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History at High Point University, presents a collection of essays from the Gunther E. Rothenberg Seminars in Military History held at High Point University in North Carolina.  Schneid is a historian of the Napoleonic Wars and Wars of Italian Independence.  His studies include Soldiers of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy: Army, State and Society, 1800-1815 (1995), Napoleon’s Italian Campaigns, 1805-1815 (2002), and Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe: The War of the Third Coalition (2005), Napoleonic Wars (2012), and The Second War of Italian Unification, 1859-1861 (2012).

This collection of essays explores the common issue of projection and limitations of imperial powers by European states and the United States from the Thirty…

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Posted in 19th Century Military History, Book Reviews, Early Modern European (1494-1648), Early Modern European (1648-1792), Napoleonic Wars | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Book Review of The Great Chevauchée: John of Gaunt’s Raid on France 1373

Posted by William Young on December 11, 2012

International History

David Nicolle. The Great Chevauchée: John of Gaunt’s Raid on France 1373. Illustrated by Peter Dennis. Raid series. Botley, England: Osprey, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84908-247-1. Illustrations. Maps. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 80. $18.95 (paperback).

The Caroline War (1369-1389/96) has received little attention outside of general studies of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).  “This interesting conflict,” so writes Dr David Nicolle, “has been largely ignored by English historians, and has been misunderstood by some of those who did refer to it” (p.12).  As such, Nicolle’s brief study The Great Chevauchée in the Osprey Raid series is a valuable contribution to the literature.  The author is well-known for his many studies in the Osprey military history series, including French Armies of the Hundred Years War (2000), Crécy 1346: Triumph of the Longbow (2000), Poitiers 1356: The Capture of a King (2004), Orléans 1429: France Turns the Tide (2005), and The Fall of English France…

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Posted in Book Reviews, Medieval Military History | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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