For those who don’t know, Dr. Christopher Duffy passed away on November 16, 2022. Many readers of this website will know Dr. Duffy as the preeminent historian of 18th century warfare, although his books stretched from the Renaissance through WW2. He reinvigorated interest in a historical topic through a singular combination of incredible research and curiosity, coupled with a knack for the sort of storytelling that invites a reader into the narrative. He was the master of making his points—the products of careful analysis and research—by using sensory-laden snippets from the accounts of those who were there. Powerful illustration indeed. He paid attention to the wide arcs of history and the grand movements of states, as well as the meter-wide view of individual people wrapped up in events beyond their control.
My first encounter with Dr. Duffy’s works was 20 years ago at the age of 16, when I read The Military Life of Frederick the Great. I read it shortly after finding Frederick the Great: The Magnificent Enigma on the library shelf, and falling fast for the epoch and protagonist. My first purchase of his was the Emperor’s Press edition of Instrument of War: The Austrian Army in the Seven Years War. From there the rest is history, and I have been hooked on studying 18th century warfare ever since.
Wherever Dr. Duffy is in the grand cosmos, please know that you were successful in transporting a jaded teenager to another place and time, hooking him line and sinker, and sparking a lifelong exploration of the topic we both love.