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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 12 September 2015

A Man Most Driven

Peter Firstbrook has written a biography of Captain John Smith, famous for being saved from execution by a Native American tribe, by his captor's daughter, Pocahontas.

American history isn't normally my thing, but this biography attracted me because of John Smith's earlier exploits were in the Balkans. Between 1601 and 1604, Smith was a mercenary captain in the Habsburg armies fighting the Ottoman Turks.

It is a pretty astonishing story as well. Smith fought in Hungary, Translyvania and Wallachia, before being captured by the Turks. He then spent a short period as a slave, before escaping through Muscovy.

We have very few English language sources for these campaigns. Of course we have Smith's own account, but what the author has done is to check that account by travelling the same route. He has given us credible evidence on the places and battles Smith took part in. As best he can, he concludes that most of Smith's account is probably broadly correct.

This is also a very readable history. It's also a great story of very interesting character. You will find this a difficult book to put down.



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