Review: The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (1), Richard Brzezinski

Rating: 3 out of 5

These old Ospreys are tough to assess: they generally get the job done, but they are rarely pretty; yet, the task of an Osprey often is to be more pretty than informative. The focus for this book is infantry, dispelling myths about how many reforms Gustav II Adolf passed in Sweden, and how the Swedes took on the Catholic League. The plates are good but the scenes are not what I would have hoped to see: there’s a lot of emphasis on individual soldiers, which fits the men-at-arms theme, but this loses much because there is very little context into which these men are placed.

Overall, what I liked best was how the author approach the typical stories of how much the Swedish king re-invented everything. This was approached carefully, with good evidence leading to the ideas’ original Dutch or German authors, where these existed, or indeed later Swedish models in the latter half of the century. This I found to be the most illuminating part of the book.

Across the rest of the work, the author focussed quite heavily on the so-called coloured regiments. This focus might have made more sense had it started with where these regiments fought, etc, but as it was, the chapters did not really stand on their own—though in many cases this is also the purpose of an Osprey, to keep you coming back for more.

Overall, this is good enough. I can see why the artillery and cavalry were separated out into another volume (to allow an equal number of plates for those as well), and though I’m curious to see what that volume says, I’ve not jumped at the opportunity of reading it. It can wait.

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