The Global Seven Years War by Daniel A. Baugh (2011)

(This long book is part of the Routledge ‘Modern Wars in Perspective’ series. Since some of the wars date back to 1460 you have to query the definition of ‘modern’.) Although an American, the author, Daniel A. Baugh, is a distinguished historian of the British Royal Navy from the Restoration to the mid-Victorian era. In […]

No One Can Stop The Rain: A Chronicle of Two Foreign Aid Workers during the Angolan Civil War by Karin Moorhouse and Wei Cheng (2005)

As with all stories everything was one big confusão. (Karin Moorhouse in No One Can Stop The Rain, page 201) Karin and Wei Karin Moorhouse was born in Australia. At university in April 1981 (p.262) she met and fell in love with Wei Cheng, who had fled Mao’s China (where he had been a very young […]

Congo: the epic history of a people by David Van Reybrouck – 3. The Great War of Africa

“General Bosco Ntaganda told us: ‘When you’re a soldier, women are free. Everything is free.’” (former child soldier talking to David van Reybrouck) David van Reybrouck’s complete history of Congo includes a chapter devoted to the conflict variously known as ‘the Second Congo War’ or ‘the Great War of Africa’ which is reckoned by commentators […]

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason K. Stearns (2011)

There was not one Congo war, or even two, but forty or fifty different, interlocking wars. Local conflicts fed into regional and international conflicts and vice versa. (Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, page 69) Twin wives The coolest thing about President Joseph-Désiré Mobutu (1930 to 1997), latterly known as Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu […]

Congolese soldiers in the world wars

Congo: The Epic History of a People by David Van Reybrouck is a wonderland of a book. The accounts he gives of the involvement of Congolese soldiers in the two world wars are so remarkable and so little known that it’s worth recording them in a standalone blog post. In his characteristic style, van Reybrouck […]

Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, the battle the changed the course of the American Civil War by James M. McPherson (2002)

The 160 pages or so of this tidy little book are like a pendant to ‘Battle Cry of Freedom’, McPherson’s vast 860-page history of the Civil War Era, which I have reviewed at length. Crossroads of Freedom is part of a series called Pivotal Moments in American History. In his introduction McPherson says that, as […]

The Outward Urge by John Wyndham (1959)

‘The Troon urge to get out into space…’ (George Troon, part 4) The Outward Urge brought to an end John Wyndham’s run of four deeply imagined, powerful and classic science fiction novels, The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos. Each of them is an absolute masterpiece, leaving vivid images […]

Political documents of the British civil wars

Political documents of the civil wars What follows are summaries of some of the key political documents produced between the start of Charles I’s conflict with Scotland  in 1637 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Instead of a chronological or thematic approach to the period, this is a different angle from which to […]

The Thirty Years War by S.H. Steinberg (1966)

S.H. Steinberg’s history of the Thirty Years War is one of the ‘Foundations of Modern History’ series. It’s admirably short (128 pages including references and index), quite old (published in 1966) and surprisingly opinionated. The preface claims that Steinberg ‘reorientates and reinterprets’ the familiar story. Steinberg’s ‘reorientation’ makes four central claims: 1. that the phrase Thirty […]

Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of The Thirty Years War by Peter H. Wilson (2010)

Introduction – the four main phases of the war The role of individual rulers Why was the Thirty Years War important? Wilson’s interpretations of the war The deep historical context of the Thirty Years War The Holy Roman Emperors Issues facing the Holy Roman Emperor in the early 17th century The role of religion in […]