born in 1951, is professor of political science at Berlin’s Humboldt University and is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Several of his books have become bestsellers and standard works in their respective fields, including The New Wars (2002), and The Myths of the Germans (2009), the latter winning the Leipzig Book Fair Prize.
THE THIRTY YEARS’ WAR
Herfried Münkler on an epochal catastrophe at the dawn of the Modern era
The Thirty Years’ War is still a metaphor for the horrors of armed conflict. It took Germany decades to recover from the devastation wreaked across the land in the longest and bloodiest religious war in European history. But when Protestant nobles threw Catholic Lords Regent of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II from a window of Prague Castle in May 1618, it could hardly have been clear that they were precipitating a deadly wildfire: the first truly ‘European’ war.
Herfried Münkler’s fascinating narrative portrays figures such as Gustav Adolf, King of Sweden and Albrecht von Wallenstein, presents the cardinals, prince electors and the famed Landknechte mercenaries as well as the wide swathes of land destroyed by the conflict and ravaged by disease, with casualties amounting to a third of the German population. And although the war period saw the state order plunged into chaos, its conclusion was to mark the birth of a pioneering new order that would cement a lasting peace and usher in a new epoch.
Herfried Münkler’s book unflinchingly shows the conflict in all its facets while keeping today’s military confrontations in view. The Thirty Years’ War, he maintains, is better placed to help us understand current conflicts than any subsequent war. This is an absorbing and expansive work that combines outstanding historical research with incisive political analysis.