The Swedish invasion of 1655, known to Poles ever since as the "Swedish Deluge", provoked the political and military collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the second largest state in Europe. Although the Swedes were ultimately driven out, the "Swedish Deluge" proved to be a crucial turning-point in Polish history. The Commonwealth, dominant in eastern and northern Europe in the sixteenth century, never recovered from the blows inflicted during the Second Northern War (1655-1660). In the eighteenth century it was the plaything of its neighbors, and its political system was the laughing-stock of Europe. By 1795 it had been partitioned out of existence. War has long been seen as crucial to the development of more effective systems of government in Europe during the seventeenth century, but studies usually concentrate on states which responded successfully to the challenges. Yet much can be learned from those that failed; none failed more dramatically that Poland-Lithuania. Robert Frost examines the reasons for Poland's fall and the conduct of the war by the Polish government, and addresses the crucial questions of why, despite widespread recognition of the shortcomings of the political system, subsequent attempts to reform should have failed. The paucity hitherto of English-language material on the Second Northern War means that After the Deluge will appeal to a broad audience among political, diplomatic and military historians of Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia and early modern Europe in general.