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Marshal Turenne

Marshal Turenne - Thomas De Longueville, Francis Lloyd Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne is regarded as one of the greatest commanders in Western history. Attaining the rank of general at the tender age of 24, he led French forces successfully in the Thirty Years War, the Franco-Spanish War, the Fronde, and Louis XIV's early wars before being killed on the eve of the battle of Salzbach. Yet despite his illustrious record and the praise accorded him there are frustratingly few books about Turenne in the English language, which forces English-language readers to turn to Thomas de Longueville's biography by default. First written in 1907, it is in many ways the best English-language biography of the great marshal-general available.

Yet being the best available doesn't necessarily make it a good book. Longueville's account of Turenne's life generally consists of a narrative of his activities that is heavy on anecdotes and short on analysis. There is little in the way of context, and even less on his personal life; instead the text is thick with battles and campaigns the assessment of which relies heavily on the judgments of others (most notably Napoleon Bonaparte. That it is still relied upon for understanding Turenne's life only speaks to the lack of anything better available in English, and the crying need for someone to step up and provide the biography that Turenne so richly deserves.