The “Pike and Shot” period that marks post-medieval warfare is one that I’ve never known a lot about, and so Osprey’s Elite book on the subject looked like just the thing.

It actually deals with a just a portion of the period, as it’s generally considered to cover from 1500 to a bit after 1700, but Keith Roberts wisely concentrated on the reforms and changes that occurred from the Dutch Revolution through the Thirty Years War. The volume also covers the English Civil War, but that just shows how existing theory was used in the ECW, especially by the Royalists, and doesn’t go into the New Model Army at all. (Which is generally covered by other books anyway.)

I found a lot of the detailed breakdowns hard to follow, and had trouble sorting out the many diagrams in the book. Part of it is because I breezed through some of it without really studying them, and part of it is because several different styles of diagrams are given, with some being contemporary illustrations, or done in the style of certain contemporary diagrams, so they can be compared, and some in modern color illustrations. I’ve seen presentations of things like this where I didn’t need to sit down and study it, so I think the diagrams could have been much better done, even though I don’t know just what went wrong.

But the real meat of the book is a look at how European thinking about combat evolved and tried to bring more more flexibility and greater tactical acumen to the field through theorizing and then training their armies in smaller formations that covered more frontage with less depth and incorporated various methods of volley fire. I’d like to see something on the period immediately preceding, that shows how the Spanish tercio came to prominence, but I don’t know of an Osprey tactics book (much less any other book) on the subject.