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Next up in our Big Reveal is our relaunched Essential Histories series. Originally launched in 2001, the Essential Histories series studies the origins, politics, fighting and repercussions of one major conflict or theatre of war. Each title in the relaunched series, coming 2022, will feature updates from the authors, a reinvigorated design and new images. 


ESS: The Franco-Prussian War

The Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 when Bismarck engineered a war with the French Second Empire under Napoleon III. This was part of his wider political strategy of uniting Prussia with the southern German states, excluding Austria. In this book, Dr Stephen Badsey examines the build-up, battles, and impact of the war, which was an overwhelming Prussian victory with massive consequences. King Wilhelm I was proclaimed Emperor of the new united Germany, the Second Empire collapsed and Napoleon III became an exile in Britain. In the peace settlement with the French Third Republic in 1871 Germany gained the eastern French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, areas that were to provide a bone of contention for years to come.


ESS: The Vietnam War 

The Vietnam War was arguably the most important event, or series of events, of the "American Century." America entered the brutal conflict certain of its Cold War doctrines and certain of its moral mission to save the world from the advance of communism. However, the war was not at all what the United States expected. In this book, leading Vietnam War scholar Dr Andrew Wiest examines how, outnumbered and outgunned, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces resorted to a guerrilla war based on the theories of Mao Zedong of China. This was war reduced to its most basic level – find the enemy and kill him.


 ESS: The Collapse of Yugoslavia 

 In 1991, an ethnically diverse region that had enjoyed decades of peaceful coexistence descended into bitter hatred and chaos, almost overnight. Communities fractured along lines of ethnic and religious affiliation and the ensuing fighting was deeply personal, resulting in brutality, rape and torture, and ultimately the deaths of thousands of people. This book examines the internal upheavals of the former Yugoslavia and their international implications, including the failure of the Vance-Owen plan; the first use of NATO in a combat role and in peace enforcement; and the war in Kosovo, unsanctioned by the UN but prosecuted by NATO forces to prevent the ethnic cleansing of the region.


ESS: War in Japan     

In 1467 the Onin War ushered in a period of unrivalled conflict and rivalry in Japan that came to be called the Age of Warring States. In this revised edition, fully illustrated in colour with all new images, Stephen Turnbull offers a masterly exposition of the wars. He explains what led to Japan’s disintegration into warring states after more than a century of peace; the years of fighting that followed; and the period of gradual fusion when the daimyo (great names) strove to reunite Japan under a new Shogun. Peace returned to Japan with the end of the Osaka War in 1615, closing the most violent, turbulent, cruel and exciting chapter in Japanese history.


ESS: The Chinese Civil War 

Out of the ashes of Imperial China arose two new contenders to lead a reformed nation: the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang, and the Chinese Communist Party. In 1927, the inevitable clash between these two political parties led to a bitter civil war that would last for 23 years, through World War II and into the Cold War period. The brutal struggle finally concluded when Communist forces captured Nanjing, capital of the Nationalist Republic of China, irrevocably altering the course of China’s future. Dr Michael Lynch sheds light on this cruel civil war that ultimately led to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.


ESS: The Jacobite Rebellion  

The Jacobite Rebellion was the Stuart dynasty’s final attempt to regain the British throne, and its failure hastened the end of the Highland clans’ way of life. The quixotic revolt, led by the charismatic Bonnie Prince Charlie and fought in the main by clansmen loyal to the Stuarts, initially saw government forces outmanoeuvred and outfought before the Prince’s march on London was halted at Derby. The following spring, pursued back into the Highlands by the Duke of Cumberland, the Prince’s army made its doomed last stand on the moor of Culloden. Covering the dynastic struggles of two royal houses, the Rebellion’s manoeuvres and battles and the tragic aftermath for the Highlands, this book is an in-depth evaluation of one of the most heavily romanticized and mythologized campaigns in military history.

Post Comments

PAUL W posted on 29 Aug 2021 13:51:49
I was really excited when I saw this post, there are so many possibilities. I was somewhat disappointed when I realised that there are no new titles. Not quite sure what "feature updates from the authors, a reinvigorated design and new images", actually means? Updates doesn't imply a revision of the title more like a few lines to try and justify people to rebuy the titles. The same with new images. I will really need to see the difference before I rebuy. Could osprey confirm if the plan is to add new titles or just revamp old ones?


Hessy Field posted on 25 Aug 2021 10:05:50
I agree with KenA's comments - and I am also missing the Chinese Civil War title from the original release of Essential Histories. I hope that new subjects will be covered and it will not just be revisions of older titles.
David Hale posted on 24 Aug 2021 22:36:27
Ah. I didn’t twig initially that these are re-hashes of old content. Bit of a poor show really when there are so many subjects that would benefit from being covered by the ESS series.
kuvaszsleepybear posted on 24 Aug 2021 19:23:40
Excellent selection except they're already sitting on my Bookshelf.
KenA posted on 24 Aug 2021 14:41:12
I think it’s a good idea to refresh some of these older titles but they should still be classed as revised reprints rather than new titles. Of these The Chinese Civil War interests me most (and has been on my Want List for a while) so I will get it and see what the new ESS formatting is all about.
David Hale posted on 24 Aug 2021 13:23:29
Wow! Good to see this series back after so long! Excellent selection of works as well.

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