also siege operations on a grand scale. 2 The Persians could assault walled cities by either tunnelling under, climbing over, or even ploughing through the walls themselves. No Greek state could prosecute this kind of siege operation until the latter years of the fifth century BC . Indeed, it is
Winner of the 2009 Distinguished Book Award of the Society for Military History
Vauban under Siege is the first systematic comparison of the theory of Vaubanian siegecraft with its reality. It places Vauban’s siege accomplishments back into their broader context, highlighting his continuation of the quest for ever-greater efficiency pursued by a century of military engineers. Based on a comprehensive inventory of sieges in the War of the Spanish Succession, it describes how both French and Allied military officers rejected this efficiency paradigm and embraced instead vigorous brute force tactics. Ignoring their over-worked and under-compensated engineers at key points, generals chose to save precious campaign time by sacrificing their soldiers’ lives in siege after siege. This early modern cult of the offensive has influenced the Western way of war ever since.