The Eighteenth Century saw a series of wars in Europe, that led up to the more famous ones towards the end of that century. I’ve been wanting good books on all of these for some time.

I’m still looking for a truly good book on the War of the Spanish Succession.

This one got better as it went along, but felt entirely too jumbled at the beginning, and never seems to give more than a surface appreciation of events. Notably, there’s a wrap up at the end that places the war into better context, and some of that would have been much better served at the beginning of the book, to get context there. There’s no really detailed looks at any of the principle figures involved, nor a lot about how they related to each other.

In some ways, Spencer’s Blenheim: Battle for Europe gives a better sense of the war as a whole even though it’s ultimately focused on one campaign. As such, there are things that are not in that book at all, but you still get a better sense of Louis XIV, Marlborough, and Eugene from that book than for anyone here. Worse, while the book is generally chronological, it doesn’t present things tightly enough for that to be evident.

Either I got a better sense for things as I went through, or the writing does get better as it goes. The feeling of reading a disconnected jumble grew less as I went along, and it does present all the major campaigns of the war. Better, there’s a good number of quotes from contemporaries to provide some color and sense of how things were regarded at the time. Overall, it’s a barely decent history that could have been a bit better with some reorganization.