If any history of the Thirty Years War could do justice to the subject, this 900 pager should do it. The research is in depth but the explanations are clear - as clear as possible considering the myriad players and the complicated politics influencing what happened in those terrible years. The intersecting agendas and motivations are picked apart as much as possible to help us understand what each party was trying to do, even though their actions contributed to events that spiraled beyond anyone's control. In the end, after all the devastation, religion and confessionalism were discredited as uniting forces - it was clear that God had favoured no one, in other words. Wilson does some work de-mythologizing the conflict and some players in it - Gustavus Adolphus was not an infallible military genius and the consequences of war were somewhat less horrible than legend would tell. In the end though, it seems clear that the Thirty Years War fully deserves its horrific reputation and dreadful place in memory.