Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book Review; Peter The Great's Revenge ( The Russian Siege of Narva 1704)

     Once again Boris Megorsky and Helion Books have combined to bring us a most illuminating volume. In 255 pages Megorsky takes us through the siege that avenged the crushing defeat that the Russians had suffered at the hands of the Swedes just four short years before. I must admit that I was at first concerned at just how readable a diary of a siege would be (they did tend to be plodding affairs, almost like a very slow waltz). To my pleasant surprise I found the text easy to read and nicely paced. This is probably the most interesting story of a siege that I have read since I found the "Siege of Dendermonde" in the old Battle magazine back in the mid 1970's with the added bonus of being a factual account.

     Megorsky sets the stage with a brief background of the strategic situation and then goes on to tell how the Russians gradually tightened the noose around Narva by cutting off contact with the sea then clearing the area around the fortress. This was followed by the establishment of formal siege lines and then a bombardment followed by a full-on assault. The process of the siege is described in a diary format, day-to-day operations are covered in detail. It was surprising to find just how important such mundane things as gathering forage were to armies of the period. Megorsky has added to his narrative interesting sidebars that answer questions that the average reader might have, such as "Who was Mikhail Ivanovich Shchepotev?" or "What were Lines of Circumvallation and Countervallation? The 1700 Battle of Narva". These add expanded information without interrupting the basic narrative. I found them very interesting and enlightening.

      In support of the excellent text is a profusion of period illustrations that show the various technical aspects of the art of siege warfare during the period. In the center of the volume is a color section of sixteen pages from modern artists that another dimension to the simply vast number of black and white illustrations that enhance every page.

       Helion books and Boris Megorsky have once again combined to bring to the English-speaking world a vast amount of information that simply is unavailable from other sources. That they have presented it in an interestingly readable manner illustrated in a stunningly comprehensive way should be subject of the highest praise.

        Very Highly Recommended to any student of the Great Northern War or anyone interested in just how a siege of the period was executed. Buy one. Now.


  1. I'm really trying not to get into the Great Northern War, you're not helping Anton!