Olli Bäckström: Polttolunnaat. Eurooppa sodassa 1618–1630 [Trial by fire. Europe at war 1618–1630]

31 July 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

backstromPolttolunnaat. Eurooppa sodassa 1618–1630
[Trial by fire. Europe at war 1618–1630]
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (Finnish Literature Society), 2013. 558 p.
ISBN 978-952-222-394-4
€39, paperback

The Thirty Years War of 1618-48 which ravaged Europe, extending its influence to overseas colonies, has been considered a religious conflict in which several countries were involved for reasons of power politics. Olli Bäckström, who belongs to the younger generation of Finnish military historians, sees the first twelve years of the war as a separate entity that bears similarities to the so-called asymmetric conflicts of our own time, such as those in Africa, which are fought by mercenaries and non-state actors for whom war is an industry and way of life. The book begins by describing the situation in Europe in the early seventeenth century, and the background of the war. Contemporary researchers view it as a religious conflict that originally began in Bohemia and then turned into a political power struggle, but Bäckström sees also the early phase as remarkably nuanced. The Nordic states of Denmark and Sweden (of which Finland was a part) were also in pursuit of fame and power on the battlefields of Central Europe, although Sweden did not really take part in the war until the next phase. Bäckström vividly portrays the alliances formed by the various political actors in order to safeguard their interests, and the methods of warfare employed by the armed forces in the service of the different rulers.
Translated by David McDuff


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