Home ] Up ] Contents ]


Early Modern to the 20th Century

Polish Winged Hussar

Richard Brzezinski                Osprey                                    ISBN 1 84176 650 X

Latest in the Warrior Osprey series covers one of the most spectacular soldiers to have fought in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Unlike the later Hussars these were heavy cavalry trained to charge with lance and armour. This book is in the usual Warrior format with chapters on the organisation, recruitment, training and equipment. As usual well illustrated including colour plates.

The Serb-Bulgarian War 1885

Alexander Vachkov                              Angela                          ISBN 954 90587 1 9

The first in a series of Osprey type publications from Bulgaria on modern Bulgarian conflicts. The text is in Bulgarian but is worth the price for the photographs and period plates and most importantly the colour uniform prints. These have an English translation at the back.

Travels to the Seat of War in the East through Russia and Crimea in 1829

Captain James Alexander                      Naval & Military Press            

This is a reprint in two volumes of the travels of a British officer who travelled through Russia to the Balkans in 1829 during the Russo-Turkish War. The first volume is a travelogue of his journey to and through Russia and is of limited interest. However, in the second volume he travels with the Russian Black Sea fleet observing their operations against the Ottoman forces. Only a very small portion of this volume is directly of interest but the description of the small scale actions and sieges he witnessed makes this a rare and useful study.

Liberation of Bulgaria

Wentworth Huyshe                               Naval & Miltary Press              ISBN 1 843428 22 9

These are the notes of a war correspondent in Bulgaria 1877 during the opening months of the Russo-Turkish War. The style is that of the Victorian British observer with his prejudices very much on show. He was based with the Turkish army of Mehemet Ali that held the Danube forts. As with other British memoirs of the times his observations concentrate more on the activities of himself and colleagues than the campaign, which is mentioned with an annoying absence of detail. However, there are some interesting descriptions of small scale actions and an eye witness account is a useful contrast to the traditional campaign narrative.

Russo-Turkish War 1806 – 1812

Alexander Mikaberidze             Nafziger Collection       ISBN 1 58545 095 2

This is a two volume study of the war (in card covers) translated from the 1843 work of Lieutenant General Alexander Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky. This is obviously not an objective study of the war. However, as very little else has been written in English on this conflict it is a welcome publication. The narrative covers the war on land and at sea and includes many maps and plates of the main protagonists (plus some uniform plates).

Hungarian Hussar 1756-1815

David Hollins                            Osprey                                     ISBN 1 84176 524 4

This title in the ‘warrior’ series covers the Hussar in his original Hungarian service from around the Seven Years war to the end of the Napoleonic wars. The recruitment, equipment and training of these flamboyant light cavalrymen are outlined together with an explanation of their role on campaign and in battle. Excellent illustrations by Darko Pavlovic.

The Ottoman Empire 1326-1699

Stephen Turnbull                       Osprey                                     ISBN 1 84176 569 4

This is a brief introduction to the Ottoman Empire in the Osprey ‘Essential Histories’ series.

Janos Hunyadi

Bob Black                                Freezywater    

A brief potted history of the Hungarian hero and his campaigns against the Turks in the 15th Century.                 

Austria’s Wars of Emergence 1683-1795

M. Hochedlinger                       Pearson                                    ISBN 0 582 29084 8

The Habsburg monarchy’s wars during the early modern period have received very little attention, excepting perhaps Prince Eugen. This study covers the 1683 Turkish siege of Vienna to the peace settlement with France in 1797. It is a comprehensive work which highlights the far reaching military commitments of the Austrian state, including the Balkans. There is a limited narrative of the main campaigns with the main focus on the organisation and structure of the army as it developed during the period.

Napoleon’s Balkan Troops

Vladimir Brnardic                     Osprey                                     ISBN 1 84176 700 X

French Napoleonic involvement in the Balkans was limited to the coastal areas of Dalmatia and the Ionian Islands between 1797 and 1815. However, the French raised a variety of colourful units that are described in this book together with the usual excellent colour plates.

Lepanto 1571

Angus Konstam                     Osprey                      ISBN 1 84176 409 4

Latest in the Osprey campaign series covering probably the most decisive naval battle of the renaissance. An Ottoman fleet of 235 galleys defeated by the Christian fleet of the Holy League off Lepanto in the Gulf of Patras, Greece.  The book follows the usual Osprey campaign format with the background to the campaign, details of the opposing forces and a detailed analysis of the battle. Well illustrated throughout with 3D maps.

Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula

M.J.Trow                                 Sutton                          ISBN 0750929650

Probably one of the Balkan’s most infamous historical characters gets yet another study in this well written narrative of the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Trow looks at the mythology and celluloid portrayals before studying the historical facts of the renaissance prince who ruled Wallachia three times.

The Lawful Revolution

Istvan Deak                               Phoenix Press                                 ISBN 1 84212 148 0

This is the story of the bloodiest of the 1848 revolutions - Hungary's war of independence from the Habsburg Empire. The story is focussed on the Hungarian leader Louis Kossuth. Primarily a political history, the military history is weak with little detail of the campaigns and battles of the war.

The Flame of Freedom

David Brewer                           John Murray             ISBN 0 7195 5447 0

The Greek War of Independence (1821-1833) has been in need of a balanced one volume account for some time. David Brewer provides just that with a well written account of the main events and a good balance between the military and political issues. Military historians will begrudge the absence of detailed accounts of the main actions, but to be fair they probably don't exist in a war characterised by small scale actions and sieges fought over by largely irregular forces on both sides. At least until the later war period and foreign intervention. Whilst the book is balanced it relies heavily on Greek sources and tells us little new about the Ottoman forces. With these reservations it is an excellent read and recommended.

Marsigli's Europe

John Stoye                  Yale University Press           ISBN 0 300 05542 0

This is a biography of Count Marsigli (1658-1730) an Italian from Bologna who entered Habsburg service reaching the rank of General before his dismissal. Most of the book describes his travels throughout the Balkans at the close of the 17th century.  He took part in the Habsburg wars against the Ottomans from the siege of Vienna to the Treaty of Carlowitz. Marsigli's main role was as an engineer advising on fortresses, bridging rivers and most importantly mapping the region. After Carlowitz he was the Habsburg commissioner responsible for the drawing the boundaries between the empires, which has had an impact on events in the Balkans to the present day. This biography and Marsigli's prolific writings gives a real insight into the workings of the Habsburg Empire during this period. Highly recommended.

Freedom or Death

S. Koumoussis             Athens 1999

Privately published rules for wargamers and historical background to the Greek War of Independence 1821-1829. A fast play set of rules to complement the author's growing range of 15mm wargames figures for this period

The Balkans since 1453

L.S. Stavrianos             Hurst          ISBN 1 85065 551 0

This is a reprint of the classic 1958 work. It provides an excellent one volume history of the Balkans from the coming of the Ottoman Turks until the end of World War 2. Unfortunately it gives only limited space to the period before the 19th century which is less well covered in English.

Under Fourteen Flags

W.D. L'Estrange          Somerled Publishing         ISBN 0 9533168 2 3

This is a reprint of the 1884 biography of Henry Ronald MacIver a Victorian soldier of fortune. Born in Scotland in began his career in the British army during the Indian Mutiny. He went on to fight in most of the armed conflicts of the later 19th century including the American Civil War, Garibaldi's campaigns, and wars in Cuba, Greece and South America. Our own interest is in the final chapters which include his involvement in the Herzegovinian insurrection and the subsequent Serbo-Turkish War of 1876. In this war he raised a small foreign cavalry legion for General Tchernaieff and was appointed to his staff. Like so many 19th century memoirs the narrative tends to concentrate on personal issues with a frustrating lack of detail on the military action. None the less this book is an excellent read of the life of a remarkable character.

Ottoman Warfare 1500-1700

Rhoads Murphey                           UCL Press   ISBN 1-85728-389-9

This book justifiably claims to be the definitive work on the Ottoman army in the early modern period. The first five chapters cover the constraints on Ottoman warfare and the preparation for war. The political framework and the material, manpower and financial limits as well as transport and provisions. Using Ottoman archive sources the author details the impressive Ottoman organisation of the period. Far from the popular view of an army living off the land, driven by religious fervor - he paints a picture of an impressive logistical operation which was a century ahead of Western European states.

The chapter on methods of warfare covers fortresses, siege operations as well as campaigning and battlefield combat. This is followed by a fascinating chapter on the psychological aspects of Ottoman warfare. The author analyses a combined system of pre-battle incentives and post-battle rewards which is much more complex and convincing than the presumed strength of the Ottoman soldier's political and religious convictions.

The final chapters look at the after effects of Ottoman warfare on the local economies and the wider state and how warfare impacted on the social transformation of the Ottoman empire. Nearly 200 pages plus appendices, notes etc. for around £14. An absolute bargain and highly recommended.

Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1775-1820

David Nicolle                      Osprey MAA 314  (ISBN 1-85532-697-3)          48p

This latest Osprey from the prolific pen of David Nicolle fills an important gap in Osprey's coverage of the Napoleonic period. It describes both the traditional and new armies of the somewhat chaotic Ottoman Empire. An army which was rich in diversity and more successful than it is usually given credit for. Whilst the text adds little to the pioneering work of William Johnson  (The Crescent Among the Eagles) and Mark Beavis (Tangier to Tehran), the strength of the Osprey format is in the illustrations and in particular the wonderful colour plates by Angus McBride. Recommended.

Ottoman Military Administration in 18th C. Bosnia

Michael Hickok        Brill 1997 (ISBN 90-04-10689-8)      190p

This book covers the relationship between the Ottoman government in Istanbul, the Bosnian governors, local troops and the Bosnian population. Two chapters cover the frontier defences and structure of the 'militia'. By this period they were mainly used to garrison fortifications and the 1737 siege of Banja Luka is highlighted. The second chapter shows how the troops were organised and financed and the degree of central control over appointments and promotions. The final chapter tells 'Three Stories' which illustrate the role of Ottoman governors. There is a heavy reliance on primary Ottoman sources which provide a welcome counter to the usual nationalist historical bias. Unfortunately the extraordinary cost for a book of this size ($82.50) will put it beyond the reach of the general reader.

The Ottoman Army in the 18th Century

Richard Watts.    Agema Publications

This is a short introductory booklet on the organisation of the Ottoman Army in the 18th Century. There is an analysis of the battle tactics and a description of all the main units that made up provincial and field armies of the period. Very little has been published in English about the Ottoman army of this period which makes this a useful contribution.

Suleyman the Magnificent and His Age

Edited by Metin Kunt & C.Woodhead. Longman (ISBN 0 582 03828 6 CSD) 218p

This book consists of eight linked chapters each written by recognised experts in this field of study. An introductory chapter covers the development of the Ottoman state up to the age of Suleyman. The chapters in Part 2 are of limited interest to the military historian as they deal with the ideology and statecraft of the period. Part 1 covers Ottoman polices and problems during the 16th century with chapters on the Mediterranean conflict and the less well known naval conflicts in the Indian Ocean.

My own favourite is the chapter by David Geza on the administration in Ottoman Europe. He contrasts the organisation of the empire in the established areas of Rumeli with newly conquered Hungary and the vassal states of Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia. Essential information for a well thought out wargames campaign.

At over £30 this book will probably have insufficient content for the military historian/ wargamer. However, it is worth a read for a deeper insight into the 'Golden Age' of the Ottoman Empire.

The Janissaries by G.Goodwin

This excellent study of the Janissaries has recently been reissued in paperback at £14.95.


Home ] Up ]

Send mail to balkandave@googlemail.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2005 Balkan Military History
Last modified: 01/23/12