Monday, 28 October 2013

Just Finished - Please & Ambition the life of Augustus the Strong

I picked this biography up for £5 at Partizan purely as a bit more background reading for the early 18th century.
Augustus was the Elector of Saxony during the War of the Spanish succession and Great Northern War.  As such he was in a position to influence the political maneuverings by both sides in both conflicts.  The French were prepared to pay him handsomely to stay out of the war and the Allies paid him even more to keep him in the war for the Spanish throne.
In turn he looked to enlarge his sphere of influence and seek a legacy for himself.  Ultimately this led him to buy the Polish throne and into conflict with Charles XII of Sweden.
The book is written largely using the diaries and letters of the various diplomats used by England & France, along with the court records of Sweden & Austria.  As such there is a great deal of speculation and theorising over some of the events in his life and what may or may not have been the reality.  The death of his brother and the elevation of Augustus to be Elector being just one example - the gossip of the time being that Augustus had killed his brother and lover to gain power, the conclusion in the book being that he might have been involved but other parties took the initiative.
All in all it is an intriguing read (although slow in places and the prose can be a little bland).  Augustus was a man who comes across as being a player but easily led.  He had ambitions that should have been easy to realise if he hadn't liked wine  women more.
As a background to some of the events of the time it is a book that will sit well on my shelf.  I would have liked more maps since the few that are given are difficult to interpret.  Equally I would have liked some photographs of portraits for the characters portrayed.
Well worth the price paid.   

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Miniature Wargames

A real treat for the weekend when this hit the door mat on Saturday.
As a fan of Battlegames I was worried when the takeover (merger or whatever) of that magazine by Miniature Wargames was announced.  We were assured that with Henry at the helm all would be well and we would like what we saw.

Well, I for one, do like what I'm seeing and I am currently enjoying reading the magazine.  With the first flick through this feels more like Battlegames having the upper hand in terms of style, content and layout.  The articles cover a broad spectrum of interests and are well written and enjoyable in the main.  The usual suspects are there as you may have expected and they've all been given more space.  The other articles are no less interesting and well presented and easy to read.  It was also nice for Henry to acknowledge the magazines roots with the cover photograph giving reference to that very first magazine from Duncan.

So it's thumbs up from me for the first issue with Henry in charge.