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. Winner of the
2009 Distinguished Book Award of the Society for Military History.
Jamel M. Ostwald, Ph.D. (2002) in History, Ohio State University, is Assistant Professor of History at Eastern Connecticut State University. His published articles have focused on the operational context of battles and siege tactics in the age of Louis XIV.
"Jamel Ostwald has set a new standard for the writing of military history. He proposes revisionist readings of time-worn truisms about the directions and development of early modern warfare, all based upon a thorough and intelligent analysis of pertinent archival sources" Michael Wolfe in
H-France Review Vol. 8 (January 2008), No. 10.
“Jamel Ostwald’s book is very welcome because, without taking away from Vauban’s achievements, it directs a critical spotlight on the reality and legacy of his approach to siege warfare….. This well-researched book will certainly not be the last word on the subject, but it does add some very useful findings to fuel the debate, and is strongly to be recommended.”
Simon Pepper in Journal of Military History, Oct2007, Vol. 71/4
"A fascinating story and a new insight into the benefits and problems of Vauban's systematic methods..."
Casemate 2007 May
Table of contents
Acknowledgements .. ix
List of Maps, Figures and Tables .. xi
Notes .. xiii
Chapter One: Introduction .. 1
Chapter Two: The Perfect Siege of Ath 1697 .. 21
Chapter Three: Efficiency and the Perfect Siege .. 46
Chapter Four: The Transitional War of the Spanish Succession .. 92
Chapter Five: Implementing the Paradigm Siege .. 123
Chapter Six: Contesting the Paradigm Siege .. 173
Chapter Seven: Vigor: An Alternative Paradigm .. 215