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Marshal Vauban was one of the greatest military engineers of all time. His complex, highly sophisticated fortress designs, his advanced theories for the defence and attack of fortified places, and his prolific work as a writer and radical thinker on military and social affairs mark him out as one of the most influential military minds of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Yet no biography of this extraordinary man has been published in English in recent times.
James Falkner, in this perceptive and lively new account of Vauban's life and work, follows his career as a soldier from a dashing and brave young cavalryman to his emergence as a masterful and innovative military engineer. He shows that Vauban was much more than simply a superlative builder of fortresses, for as a leading military commander serving Louis XIV he perfected a method for attacking fortifications in the most effective way, and at least cost, which became standard practice until the present day. Indeed, in the 1670s his standing was such that Louis XIV gave him the task of fortifying the newly enlarged French borders in order to secure the king's conquests in that otherwise indefensible region.
Vauban's work in the decades that followed in designing, constructing and improving over 150 fortresses across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern Italy, along the Rhine and in the Pyrenees and on France's long coastline, made him the preeminent military engineer of his day. His achievements in those years are the bedrock for all subsequent military engineering activity, and his written works remain unsurpassed as practical handbooks and guides in the formal art of siegecraft.
James Falkner's new study will add significantly to the understanding of Vauban's achievements and the impact his work has had on the history of warfare.
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