There has been a recent trend in history to interpret the rise and fall of great powers in terms of economics, or demographics, or geography. This is not always true, as this book proves, because sometimes pure military skill can propel a nation to prominence, if it is simply able to crush all its opponents on a battlefield. No better example arises than that of Sweden beginning in the 17th century, which held supremacy over northern Europe for 100 years without any technological, geographic or demographic advantages at all. This fascinating book describes how the Swedes first arrived in continental Europe during the 30 Years War, under their king Gustavus Adolfus. Just in time to roll back the reactionary Catholic tide and buttress the Lutherans, the Swedes proved more innovative in battle than their opponents, using the new arm of artillery plus tactical formations to establish supremacy on the battlefield. This horrific war still exists in collective memory as the worst travail in German history, even worse than the world wars; however along with the salvation of Protestantism the emergence of the Swedes as a power to be reckoned with meant new geopolitical complications for the existing powers of Europe. Adolphus was eventually killed in battle, but a successor, Charles XII, renewed Swedish aggression - this time for the object of conquest - as he found that no army on the Continent could stand against his legions from the north. As later military leaders would find, however, the conquest of Russia comprised a considerable overreach, and Charles was eventually trapped and defeated deep in the Ukraine, at Poltava. In this work renowned military historian Henrik O. Lunde unveils a fascinating chapter in the foundation of Western history that is seldom seen or recognized by English or American readers.