A little over a year ago, I was approached by Helion with a suggestion that I might like to work with them to set up a new book series covering the military history of the long eighteenth century. To say that I jumped at the chance would be an understatement. Now, after a lot of preparation, the first titles in that series are almost ready to be launched.
As someone whose interests stretch across this era, it had long been a frustration that publishers seemed only to be interested in the very end of it: the Napoleonic Wars. In one sense, this was great for me as it meant that I was able to find publishers for several books on the Napoleonic-era British Army and its campaigns, but it meant that my enthusiasm for the earlier part of the period was struggling to find an outlet beyond historical re-enactment and a bit of dabbling in wargaming. I knew, as well, that I was not the only one to feel this frustration and that there were several other would-be authors of my acquaintance struggling to get their research on eighteenth century topics into print. What I did not realise, until we started putting the series together, was how much more unpublished research was out there – waiting for a publisher to come along.
In putting the series together, we had no difficulty in picking a start-date as the intention was always to dovetail with the existing Century of the Soldier series running from c.1618-1721, of which From Reason to Revolution will be a close twin in terms of format and approach. Choosing an end-date was a little more problematic, and the initial thought was to end with the Peace of Amiens in 1801. This, however, increasingly came to feel like an artificial cut-off, needlessly breaking the continuity of themes between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, and so we ultimately chose to extend coverage to 1815. This allows for a full examination of the changes in warfare, politics and society that give the series its name: from fortress-based strategy and linear battles to the nation-in-arms and the beginnings of total war, and covering along the way the campaigns of Saxe, Frederick, Washington, Napoleon, and Wellington.
Like Century of the Soldier, the series contains a mix of conventional monographs and smaller, more heavily illustrated titles in our Falconet paperback format. Within that – looking at titles already in production or preparation – we have battle studies, organisational histories and uniform studies, as well as several collections of eyewitness material. The latter – currently stretching in scope from the outbreak of the Seven Years War to the Battle of Waterloo – includes both newly-unearthed sources, accounts translated from other languages (including some fascinating Russian material) and re-issued English-language classics. In all cases, the original material is accompanied by notes and commentary by experts on the conflicts in question.
In both the eyewitness accounts and the modern studies commissioned for the series, we have been keen to ensure that coverage is given to less well-known armies and campaigns as well as the usual big-name suspects. So we have, for example, uniform studies of the Dutch, Saxon and Spanish armies under development – all of them bringing out new information not previously available in English. The campaigns of the 1740s – often overshadowed by those of the Seven Years War – are the subject of several forthcoming titles, beginning with a new study of the fighting at Prestonpans in 1745 out later this year. In similar fashion, we will be looking at the campaigns of the 1790s in as much detail as the better-known battles of the following two decades, with titles due out over the next 12 months covering actions in Europe, Egypt and the West Indies as well as the war at sea.
The first five titles are already available to pre-order and details of them can be found on the series webpage here. For more information, look out for title-specific entries in this blog, or follow the new Facebook page for the series at https://www.facebook.com/HelionFRTR/.
Lastly, anyone interested in contributing to the series themselves is most welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their ideas.
Andrew Bamford, Series & Commissioning Editor