Michal Paradowski, Against the Deluge (Helion, 2022)
In Against the Deluge, Michal Paradowski describes the Polish and Lithuanian armies that fought against the Swedish ‘deluge’ invasion between 1655 and 1660. If you enjoy 17th Century warfare but are unfamiliar with eastern European conflicts, you are in for a treat.
The general reader will be relieved that Paradowski opens with a chronology of the wars followed by a discussion of the sources. This is where Paradowski sets out his stall for what is to come; he intends to fill a wide gap in the sources when it comes to the Commonwealth armies. That begins with a discussion of the Commonwealth’s military system, how the armies were organised, their strength, and recruitment. Unsurprisingly, these varied with the fortunes of war, physically and economically. Paradowski turns to the command of those armies, supported by contemporary illustrations of some gloomy-looking characters. The main formations of the armies come under Paradowski’s gaze, and here we meet the famous Winged Hussars and Cossacks along with more mundane, but no less interesting, units. The use of foreign infantry also receives in-depth coverage, and Paradowski provides full coverage of homegrown contingents. Various aspects of military life receive due attention, then Paradowski moves on to describe how pitched battles were fought, complete with clear maps and contemporary illustrations. He does not overlook the importance of ‘small wars’, irregular fighting often conducted at skirmish level, and siege warfare. Paradowski concludes with an example of a low-level campaign, demonstrating he can write narrative as well as analytic history.
You have to credit Helion and its Century of the Soldier series for bringing in authors to cover niche aspects of 17th Century warfare. In Michal Paradowski, Helion has found a champion for the Polish and Lithuanian armies that brought the rampant Swedes to a halt, though it took a while and many learning experiences before they did. Through his expert selection of source material and a keen eye for what is important, Paradowski covers all you need to know in what must be the definitive text for this subject. He is assisted by the judicious deployment of illustrations and maps and some fine colour plates of soldiers and flags. This is essential reading for students of these wars, but general enthusiasts for 17th Century warfare will enjoy it too.