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"Great Northern War Books??" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Spiral18 May 2006 12:37 a.m. PST

Does anyone know of any good books from this period. I'm after books that cover the campaigns rather than the politics of the affair.
Bill T

Wombling Free18 May 2006 1:23 a.m. PST

Robert Frost's "Northern Wars" would be a good start, as would checking out Dan Schorr's website:

There is a bibliography on the website that should help, although I do not know of much in English, and there are a number of battle descriptions too.


Midway Monster18 May 2006 1:34 a.m. PST

"Poltava the Battle that Changed Europe" by Englund is an excellent read and full of detail.

goodtigger18 May 2006 1:46 a.m. PST

As far as books in English are concerned, there are a couple of biographies of Karl XII that will help, namely Voltaire's "Lion of the North" and Bain's "Charles XII". If you live near a good university, try to track down an English translation of Adlerfelt's 1707 book on the campaigns of Karl XII. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has it in the rare book section of their main library.

Hope this helps,


Jeigheff18 May 2006 4:34 a.m. PST

"Peter the Great" by Robert K. Massie has a great deal of information about the Great Northern War, as well as much information about his contemporaries, such as Charles XII.

bunnyspank18 May 2006 5:32 a.m. PST

If you read or want to try to read Swedish, I can recommend several great books that were published back in the early 1900s, all of them are listed on the website. If you're interested, send me an email and I'll see what I can do:

All the best,

Travellera18 May 2006 6:58 a.m. PST

Check out:

Zagloba18 May 2006 7:32 a.m. PST

Adlerfelt was available during the Gale Library free month last month. Anyone know the legality of sharing the pdfs I downloaded?


Twitchy18 May 2006 9:53 a.m. PST

I'd second Massie's "Peter the Great". It's a great book, and contains a pretty fair look at the GNW and Peter's campaign against the Turks as well.

basileus6618 May 2006 11:25 a.m. PST

I second Englund's book.

Gustav A20 May 2006 10:31 a.m. PST

The main problem is that the majority of the bboks available in English focus amost exclusicely on the war with Russian and most often with the Poltava period of that war. Frost does cover bits of the early period and the war in Poland with the Saxons and Poles but afaik there are no books that cover the campaigns in Denmark, Germany or southern Sweden.

dbf167624 May 2006 2:28 p.m. PST

If Aldefelt is 300 years old, I don't see any copyright problems. However, this should not be construed as legal advice.

dbf167624 May 2006 2:38 p.m. PST

"The Life of Charles XII" by F G Bengtsson (1960), has some good descriptions of the campaigns for what is a biography. Much more military detail that Hatton or Massie, although I would recommend both of them. You can find a copy at ABEbooks for $15.00.

nemopholist25 May 2006 5:14 a.m. PST

Dear Spiral

Voltaires work is pure crap! ignore it. Voltaire did no research and basically made it up as he went along from some tales and remeniscences he heard. Dbf1676 here pointed you at two excellent works, Bengtsson's, though I believe it is long out of print, but you can probably find it in a library. I don't know if he is talking about that work in ABE books, but I will check it out. There's another work and I believe it's Hatton, another biography of Charles XII. which is very good. It too, might be out of print. That's the problem. Not a big call for this. Englund's book on Poltava is good too but he is openly partizan but makes a good counter to Bengtsson.

These books are a good start. You have to get to know the background to the period and the personalities involved (especially when you are talking about the Great Northern War as a deul between two giants, Charles XII and Peter the Great. The war is VERY different. Forget the battles and campaigns and the other bits of "wargame porn" till you get the background in. For an excellent short monograph on the interplay of these two personalities find "Van Loons Lives" by Hendrik Van Loon, and read the chapter on when he has both Charles and Peter to dinner.

Massies work is of course excellent for Peter the Great. Peter has no lack of sources, especially as he has become a favorite whipping boy for starting Russia down the road to communism, much like Luther, Frederick the Great, Bismark and others have been cast in various works as the start of the Nazi Horror.

bunnyspank03 Jun 2006 3:27 a.m. PST

I have to disagree with you on Voltaire. While I agree with you that he did no research [after all, he's not a historian], he does give his reader the right 'feel' for the period. This book inspired me to do more research into the period and eventually run across all the other boooks you mentioned. I agree that it should not be taken as historical fact but most 'historians' of that time, wrote down what other people told them and I believe that Voltaire's work on Charles XII is, in some respects, a lot better than Massie's work on Peter.

Hwiccee04 Jun 2006 10:34 a.m. PST

Massie's work on Peter the Great tends to just follow the classic Russian/Soviet line on him and the war. It really needs to be balanced by looking at the Swedish side of things and also by a more balanced look at Peter/the Russians. The Frost book already mentioned is excellent for this.

Kaptain Kobold24 Aug 2015 4:25 a.m. PST

This thread is nine years old now, and I was wondering if things have changed in the interim. I'm looking for a nice readable history of the Great Northern War. I'm a lightweight; I like narrative histories, such as Shelby Foote's history of the American Civil War or history via biography, such as Robert Harvey's 'Liberators' or Frank Mclynn's 'Villa and Zapata'. The technical detail comes later; I want incident and colour to start with.


Thomas Nissvik25 Aug 2015 3:21 a.m. PST

"Poltava" by Englund, mentioned above, will fit the bill for you I think. Now that the thread is back on the front page, someone might give you suggestions for newer works.

Kaptain Kobold25 Aug 2015 3:46 a.m. PST

That's what I was hoping :) Thanks for the suggestion.

dbf167625 Aug 2015 5:56 p.m. PST

You should take a serious look at this new two volume book on the GNW, which is in English. It is coming out shortly.


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