by Martha D. Pollak
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xv, 354.
Illus., maps, diagr., notes, index. $99.00. ISBN: 978-0-521-11344-1
In this work Prof. Pollak (Illinois at Chicago), a student of architecture and military influences on urban design, author, among others, of Turin 1564-1680: Urban Design, Military Culture, and the Creation of the Absolutist Capital, addresses the idea that fortification engineering was “the master discipline” of the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, that is, the ultimate high-tech profession of the times.
In the process, she fills this 11½” x 9” volume with plans, diagrams, and illustrations of over 100 fortified places, to accompany a comprehensive text that surveys the evolution of fortification design in the period and offers brief biographies of some of the more interesting, though often forgotten, fortification engineers of the age. As she does this, Pollak touches upon the political, social, economic, and even cultural influences on the design and construction of extensive defenses and their influence in turn on their societies.
A valuable work for students of the early modern period, this book may also be read with interest by students of fortification design or of the interaction of war and society.