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The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 violently changed the course of European History. Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, Geoffrey Wawro's Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 violently changed the course of European History. Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, Geoffrey Wawro's Franco-Prussian War describes the war that followed in thrilling detail. While the armies mobilized in July 1870, the conflict appeared "too close to call." Prussia and its German allies had twice as many troops as the French. But Marshal Achille Bazaine's grognards ("old grumblers") were the stuff of legend, the most resourceful, battle-hardened, sharp-shooting troops in Europe, and they carried the best rifle in the world. From the political intrigues that began and ended the war to the bloody battles at Gravelotte and Sedan and the last murderous fights on the Loire and in Paris, this is the definitive history of the Franco-Prussian War.


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The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 violently changed the course of European History. Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, Geoffrey Wawro's Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 violently changed the course of European History. Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, Geoffrey Wawro's Franco-Prussian War describes the war that followed in thrilling detail. While the armies mobilized in July 1870, the conflict appeared "too close to call." Prussia and its German allies had twice as many troops as the French. But Marshal Achille Bazaine's grognards ("old grumblers") were the stuff of legend, the most resourceful, battle-hardened, sharp-shooting troops in Europe, and they carried the best rifle in the world. From the political intrigues that began and ended the war to the bloody battles at Gravelotte and Sedan and the last murderous fights on the Loire and in Paris, this is the definitive history of the Franco-Prussian War.

30 review for The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “Once the Germans began firing, the French could find no cover anywhere. They were hit with a storm of shells whistling in from an arc of ninety degrees. A hill might shield French soldiers from shells fired from one direction, but they lay naked to projectiles smashing in from other angles. Worse, shellfire burst among the trees, adding jagged splinters to the shrapnel and shell fragments tearing into French units. The one-sided bombardment exhilarated the German gunners, who drove in for the k “Once the Germans began firing, the French could find no cover anywhere. They were hit with a storm of shells whistling in from an arc of ninety degrees. A hill might shield French soldiers from shells fired from one direction, but they lay naked to projectiles smashing in from other angles. Worse, shellfire burst among the trees, adding jagged splinters to the shrapnel and shell fragments tearing into French units. The one-sided bombardment exhilarated the German gunners, who drove in for the kill against no resistance. For their helpless French targets, who watched the German gun flashes draw closer and closer, the sights, sounds, and shocks of this artillery massacre became a horror beyond description. With six-pound shells bursting in their midst, the French troops dissolved in a great sauve qui peut headed for Sedan. There men tumbled into the ditches and frantically tried to climb the walls of the fortress…” - Geoffrey Wawro, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 In my opinion, the most rewarding thing about studying history is that there is always a brand new story waiting to be discovered. Even if you devoted your entire life to exploring all the major events since the dawn of humanity, you could only cover a fraction. Everywhere you turn, there’s something you don’t know, and that’s exciting. At least, it’s exciting to me. When I tried to impress that nugget on my kids at dinner, they all looked down, squirmed awkwardly, and asked to be excused. I thought about that as I finished Geoffrey Wawro’s thoroughly engaging The Franco Prussian War. This is a conflict that I had heard about in passing, mainly in my readings about World War I. Aside from its mere existence, though, I knew very little else. This book – a rather slim 314 pages of text – provided a wonderful crash course. Fought over a period of only six months, and started over a ridiculous squabble between Napoleon III of France, and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck of the North German Confederation, the Franco-Prussian War was nevertheless quite impactful in terms of both European and world history. By the time it concluded, over 180,000 men had been killed, around 230,000 had been wounded, the French Second Empire had fallen, the Third Republic had risen, and the various German kingdoms – spearheaded by militaristic Prussia – finally joined together to form the German Empire. While this did not directly cause the First World War, it certainly helped set the table, causing France to lose face, along with Alsace and Lorraine, and turning the German Empire into a massively powerful continental force, which had learned an unfortunate lesson about getting what they wanted by invading their croissant-loving neighbor. For a newcomer to this subject, I don’t think I could have picked a better book. While Wawro is not trying to present this as a Franco-Prussian War for Dummies, he approaches things methodically. The first chapter, for instance, is titled “Causes of the Franco-Prussian War,” and distills the tension between Kaiser Wilhelm I, Bismarck, and their hopes for a fully unified Germany on the one hand, and Napoleon III, who was hoping to keep certain kingdoms, such as the Kingdom of Bavaria (which had actually fought the Prussians in the Austro-Prussian War) out of Bismarck’s clutches. Just as helpfully, the following chapter is called “The Armies in 1870,” and compares the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing forces. France had their veteran “Old Grumblers” and the chassepot bolt action rifle, but were led by leaders by turns hapless and traitorous, and had a reserve system filled with men who didn’t want to fight. Germany’s small arms were not nearly as good, but they had Krupp-manufactured breechloading cannon, an effective reserve system, and were led by General Helmuth von Moltke, who besides being good with an epigram, had a sound overall strategic plan (at least a better plan that von Moltke’s nephew took to war in 1914). While these chapter headings sound pedantic, I can assure you, this is an enjoyable read. Wawro is serious about his research – as well as structuring it in a clear manner – but he also has a dry wit, an ability to get to the essence of a general’s character, and is very good with the battle narratives, combining complex tactical maneuvers with solid descriptions and first-person accounts. The maps are not all that I would have hoped for – they never are – but there are enough of them placed throughout The Franco-Prussian War that I was able to follow along quite well. My only real criticism of The Franco-Prussian War is that while the first two-thirds are very detailed, with the major battles each receiving their own chapters, the final third feels like a summary that left my head spinning. In this rush to the finish, certain momentous scenes get shortchanged. For example, the crowning of Wilhelm I as Kaiser of the German Empire in Versailles’s Hall of Mirrors is reduced to a single paragraph. Extremely bloody clashes, which earlier in the book had received maps and detailed descriptions, are dispensed with brisk and superficial explanations. Despite the weakness in Wawro’s endgame, I left extremely satisfied. When you venture into a somewhat obscure corner like the Franco-Prussian War, sometimes the best that you can hope for is a book with grammatically sound sentences. I was thus happily surprised to be both educated and entertained. More than that, the education came from a guy who knows his business. Don’t let the television-friendly looks or the fact that Wawro was host of numerous programs on The History Channel fool you: he is a history nerd with a very specific niche. Obviously, as I’ve admitted, I barely know what I’m talking about when it comes to this conflict, but Wawro’s judgments seem nuanced and sound. The outcome of the Franco-Prussian War did not make anything afterwards an inevitability. Still, it tended to make certain things more probable. This was due to a couple circumstances. For one, Prussian military influence in the new German Empire would play an outsized role in the years to come. For another, it created a brand new player in the endless game of European blood-chess. As we all know, that new player would find itself facing a deadlier, higher-stakes rematch forty-three years later.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mac McCormick III

    The Franco-Prussian War is one little read about, less often written about, and frequently forgotten. In fact, many Americans may not have even heard of it. This is unfortunate because along with other wars such as the Crimean War and American Civil War, it was a war in which modern technology met old tactics and foreshadowed the death and destruction of World War I. Like the Crimean War, it also helped set the stage for World War I. During this centennial of World War I, I have been looking for The Franco-Prussian War is one little read about, less often written about, and frequently forgotten. In fact, many Americans may not have even heard of it. This is unfortunate because along with other wars such as the Crimean War and American Civil War, it was a war in which modern technology met old tactics and foreshadowed the death and destruction of World War I. Like the Crimean War, it also helped set the stage for World War I. During this centennial of World War I, I have been looking for books to read on the war and it occurred to me that reading about wars that helped set the stage for it would be just as important as reading books about World War I itself. Along those lines, I just finished reading The Franco-Prussian War by Geoffrey Wawro. The war was a brief war but important one and to ignore the origins and the after effects of the war would have been a mistake. The Franco-Prussian War can be divided into three sections, one on what brought the war about, another composed of 2/3 of the book on the fighting, and a final section on the aftermath of the war and its after effects. Each section explores both the military and political/foreign policy aspects of the war. In the lead up to the war, Wawro explains how politics and foreign policy brought France and Germany to war and discusses the military readiness of both countries as well as the states of the armies and schools of thought on tactics and strategy. The contrast between the German Army and the French Army was stark. The Germans, under Prussian leadership, had a modern, forward thinking military that emphasized initiative and education. In the German army, not just the officers were educated, many of the common soldiers were literate. Not so in the French Army; it looked more to the past and there was a distinct cultural divide between the aristocratic officers and the illiterate lower class soldiers. The French Army looked more to the defense and lacked the flexibility at lower ranks that the Germans enjoyed. The Franco-Prussian War very much seemed to be contest between a disorganized and apathetic French Army and a well-organized and professional German Army. When it came to political leadership, it seemed Napoleon III was seeking to put the Prussians in their place after being diplomatically outmaneuvered and stumbled into a trap Bismarck had set to create an environment in which he could finish German unification. The section about the war itself doesn’t limit itself to a discussion of the strategy and tactics employed by the generals but also how their political masters’ actions shaped those strategies. Just as Bazaine and Moltke and the Chassepot rifle and the Krupp cannon were important militarily, Napoleon III and Bismarck were just as important politically, it was their actions and policy that impacted the decision making of the generals and the use of the weapons. Wawro discusses how the superior French Chassepot rifle shaped and the superior German Krupp artillery shaped the German tactics. He also discusses how errors by the French squandered their advantages and how errors by German leadership led them to take heavier casualties than they should have. Essentially, leaders on both sides committed many errors, but the errors on the part of the French leadership were more grievous and contributed toward their defeat. Particularly in the closing stage of the war, he shows how the political leadership of both sides and political upheaval in France shaped strategy in attempt to bring about each sides’ desired outcome. Perhaps the most important part of the book is the final section about what happened post-war; Wawro writes about what the military leadership took away as lessons learned, how the war altered the map of Europe, and how the outcome of the war led to World War I. He discusses how the military leadership of both France and Germany (and the generals of other countries) came away from the Franco-Prussian War with a false reading on offensive tactics and how those false readings led to the massive loss of life in World War I. He tells how the landscape was altered through annexation and how Bismarck’s humiliating terms to France primed the pump for World War I, much as the terms of peace following World War I led to World War II. It is easy to come away from this last section of the book that in the short term, the Germans won the war but that in the long term they lost it by setting themselves up for defeat in World War I. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was well written and well researched. Political and military histories can easily become dry but Wawro wrote a book that is easy to read and captures the reader’s attention and touches on tactics, strategy, and technology without getting bogged down in minutiae. Perhaps it was because I was reading about a war that doesn’t receive a lot of attention but I genuinely found this book hard to put down. Each chapter has extensive end notes; it’s obvious that he did a massive amount of research. As usual, I read the Kindle version and it’s important to note that The Franco-Prussian War has maps in their appropriate place – with the relevant text (see, it can be done!!). This made it easy to visualize the military maneuvers that Wawro was writing about. I enthusiastically give this book 5 out of 5 stars and I strongly recommend it if you are interested in learning about an overlooked yet historically important war.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    About 2/3 about the battles themselves; the remaining, and more interesting, about the politics and strategy. The French should have won: they had interior lines, they had a far superior rifle, the Chassepot. But they had neither battle plans nor maps, and a purely defensive strategy: they declared war on Prussia, dug trenches and waited to be attacked. Prussia won with accurate Krupp artillery, skirmishers that enveloped French positions--and stoic willingness to accept casualties. Had the Fren About 2/3 about the battles themselves; the remaining, and more interesting, about the politics and strategy. The French should have won: they had interior lines, they had a far superior rifle, the Chassepot. But they had neither battle plans nor maps, and a purely defensive strategy: they declared war on Prussia, dug trenches and waited to be attacked. Prussia won with accurate Krupp artillery, skirmishers that enveloped French positions--and stoic willingness to accept casualties. Had the French counter-attacked. . . but the French generalship was awful, and (without Prussia's universal conscription) France had fewer troops. Paris, encircled, was a mess: Bonapartists battling Republicans instead of uniting behind the war effort: "Hence the reactionaries say 'mieux les Prussiens que la Republique' - 'better the Prussians than the Republic.'" One French army fled South to neutral Switzerland, saying "Better the Swiss than the Prussians." Negotiating the peace treaty: "The chancellor never let up and when [provisional French President] Thiers refused to cede Belfort in addition to Strasbourg and Metz, Bismarck threatened a resumption of the war. After consulting with the king and Moltke, Bismarck relented on Belfort in exchange for a gloating victory parade through Paris in March by 30,000 German troops." After the war, all the great powers emulated Prussian tactics, General Staff, etc., the result of which was mutual slaughter in WW1.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a non-fic about one of the ‘forgotten wars’ of the 19th century, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. While it is mainly a military history, there are a lot of vignettes and more general history. The pre-history: on one side Prussia with Bismarck, growing world power, winner of 1866 war with Austria. On the other – France, which holds to its Napoleonic past (from, the structure of army to his nephew as the current emperor) and assumes that it is able to press others to do what France wan This is a non-fic about one of the ‘forgotten wars’ of the 19th century, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. While it is mainly a military history, there are a lot of vignettes and more general history. The pre-history: on one side Prussia with Bismarck, growing world power, winner of 1866 war with Austria. On the other – France, which holds to its Napoleonic past (from, the structure of army to his nephew as the current emperor) and assumes that it is able to press others to do what France wants. Bismarck fires up French by a series of provocations (which France is eager to follow) to declare the war on Prussia (thus losing potential favorable international opinion). France’s army was smaller and older, with professional solders, mostly uneducated. It has two wunderwaffen – Chassepot rifle, which shot further and more precise then Prussian needle rifle; and Mitrailleuse – early modern machine gun, which doesn’t swivel, so its volleys were more spectacular than effective sweeping fire. Prussian had their wunderwaffen as well Krupp’s steel tube guns with a great range. Their army was larger, conscripted and more educated, which is a great boon in the industrial era. The armies also had quite almost opposite approaches to the war: Germans attacked again and again, each attempt quickly gaining support of the neighboring units, fallen officers quickly replaced but educated NCOs; French based everything on their old glory, long-range rifle and static defense, the latter pulverized by Krupp’s guns. Another problem is a constant bickering among French high command, were everyone wanted honors but not the responsibility, so they march their troops to exhaustion only to leave them under enemy fire. To a large extent this war, more than any other led to the WWI as we know it – French elan tactics, fight for Alsace and Lorraine, raise of Germany with resulting fear of it, assumption that a future war should be short, so its ok to throw millions of solders into this meatgrinder, and so on. A great history book for everyone interested in the period.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    Geoffrey Wawro can make history read like a story. And he tells it so well, so clearly that even such tangled webs as Prussian President Otto von Bismarck's intricate diplomatic maneuverings leading up to the Franco-Prussian War are crystal clear. A Wawro history is a crisp stream with lively currents rather than the dry stony bed of lesser writers. We in America think of the mid-ninteenth century as the slavery issue, the Civil War, and conflict with the Indians. But it was a violent time in Eur Geoffrey Wawro can make history read like a story. And he tells it so well, so clearly that even such tangled webs as Prussian President Otto von Bismarck's intricate diplomatic maneuverings leading up to the Franco-Prussian War are crystal clear. A Wawro history is a crisp stream with lively currents rather than the dry stony bed of lesser writers. We in America think of the mid-ninteenth century as the slavery issue, the Civil War, and conflict with the Indians. But it was a violent time in Europe, too, particularly as Bismarck sought to unify the Prussian north and the southern, Catholic German states into one nation. The brief Danish war in 1864 and the swift defeat of Austria in 1866 were desiged to solidify the Prussian state. An alarmed French Emperor Napoleon III rightly felt threatened and began preparing for war. But they were still not ready and had no strategy for defeating Prussia when, in July 1870, Bismarck created the diplomatic crisis which coerced France into declaring war and coerced the south German states into joining Prussia as a united front in the war against them. Wawro explains all this well, and he describes the military operations that followed in prose both immediate and academic. The campaign in France, northeast and south of Paris, were hard-fought battles characterized more by brutal weight than by nimble maneuvering, but Wawro keeps it interesting. He's severely hampered here by the poor maps provided in support of his text. Good maps are a necessity in military history. I quickly found myself searching through other sources for a graphic complement to Wawro's textual explanation of the operations. Wawro is best at historical analysis. The big body of operational commentary is propelled by the wings of the causes and results of the war. Napoleon III went into exile and the French crown was replaced by a republic. The alliance of the south German states with Prussia encouraged Bismarck to proclaim a German empire under Wilhelm I. However, there were still internal political contradictions and the need to dispel them was yet another prod toward war in 1914, as was the Prussian annexation of Alsace-Lorraine which remained a burr aggravating France. Military actions foreshadowed the 1914-18 war in the discovery of the destructive power of breech-loading artillery and machineguns which overcame infantry tactics and small arms. Wawro is at his best in such analysis and his wings give flight to his history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Of all of the wars fought in Europe between 1815 and 1914, none was more important in terms of its impact than the Franco-Prussian War. The culmination of Otto von Bismarck's strategy for unifying the German states into a single country, it saw the displacement of France as the dominant Continental power and the formation of a new nation that would dominate events in Europe for the next three-quarters of a century. Such an epochal conflict is well deserving of study, yet for Geoffrey Wawro to wri Of all of the wars fought in Europe between 1815 and 1914, none was more important in terms of its impact than the Franco-Prussian War. The culmination of Otto von Bismarck's strategy for unifying the German states into a single country, it saw the displacement of France as the dominant Continental power and the formation of a new nation that would dominate events in Europe for the next three-quarters of a century. Such an epochal conflict is well deserving of study, yet for Geoffrey Wawro to write this book is in some respects an act of bravery. For decades Michael Howard's The Franco-Prussian War has been the go-to source for readers seeking an English-language history of the conflict, and little has changed since its publication in 1961 to undermine its value. Yet Wawro's book is a worthy addition to the literature on the war, thanks to the directness of his analysis and the clarity of his prose. He provides readers with a superb introduction to the conflict, starting with an analysis of its political background and the strengths and weaknesses of the two armies before detailing the major campaigns of the war. From his analysis emerges a tale of two powers, one rotted yet still possessing formidable strengths, the other dynamic but suffering from its own set of flaws. Wawro makes it clear that while the Prussians enjoyed several advantages the outcome was far from ordained, with the flaws of French leadership being a decisive factor in its defeat. Wawro's book illuminates the depth of France's humiliation in their defeat. In doing so, he helps to underscore the long-term significance of the war, as France would emerge from it determined to undo its loss. Though this may not have made the conflict that took place four decades later inevitable, the seeds for it were clearly sown in 1870-1. To understand why is just one reason why this book is necessary reading for every student of modern European history, as well as anyone seeking an accessible overview of this pivotal clash of powers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871, by Geoffrey Wawro, is a book detailing the history of the Franco-Prussian War. It analyzes the background to the conflict, including the political machinations of Napoleon III and Otto von Bismarck, the two charismatic leaders of France and Prussia, respectively. The conflicts background is complex, and disputes between France and Prussia were legion. Prussia was stoking German nationalism in order to unite the German states, a The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871, by Geoffrey Wawro, is a book detailing the history of the Franco-Prussian War. It analyzes the background to the conflict, including the political machinations of Napoleon III and Otto von Bismarck, the two charismatic leaders of France and Prussia, respectively. The conflicts background is complex, and disputes between France and Prussia were legion. Prussia was stoking German nationalism in order to unite the German states, and indeed in 1866 had defeated Austria-Hungary in a decisive war, gaining control of the Northern German states and eroding the independence of Bavaria, Baden and Wurttemberg in the south. This alarmed France greatly, for they coveted a united States of Europe, under the control of France of course. Other disputes included a Prussian funded railway through Switzerland, which threatened France with a Prusso-Italian alliance. A succession dispute in Spain, however, sparked the conflict, with the Spanish government asking a Hohenzollern prince to take the throne. This was a situation France could not bare, and so they declared war. This was to Bismarck's advantage however. It isolated France on the political stage, and gave Prussia an opportunity to go toe to toe with the French themselves. Nobody, not even the Prusians, would have predicted the outcome of this war, however. Prussia defeated France, then the Great Power of the world, in less than a year. In the end, superior military organizations and tactics led to a total route. How did this come about? It shocked the world at the time, but Wawro takes a deep look at the tactical advantages and weakness' of both sides of the conflict, and the Prussian too, had many. Each battle and its aftermath politically are analyzed in depth, including troop numbers, organization and supply. Wawro writes an in depth history of this war that is both informative and highly readable. This is an excellent read for nay history buff, and a good precursor for those interested in the Great Wars of the 20th century, as this conflict played a key role both politically and socially in the attitudes and alliances that came afterwards. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Davenport

    Wawro masterfully tackles a pivotal conflict that has been sadly sidelined in the modern study of history--particularly narrow Americentric here in the US. This is essential reading for anyone who desires an understanding of German unification, or who yearns for a perspective of the diverging paths leading to the Great War that followed 43 years later, or wishing to grasp European history in general. Great, recommended read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris D'Antonio

    All in all, a solid account of the military conduct and movements within the Franco-Prussian War. I appreciated Mr. Wawro's perceptiveness to the depredations which soldiers on both sides were subjected to while their leaders angled politically, or failed to do so. This account in many ways highlights the war as a harbinger for struggles to come (e.g. WWI, WWII) and the logistical pressures which would be "corrected" in following conflicts up to the First World War (Communications, troop movemen All in all, a solid account of the military conduct and movements within the Franco-Prussian War. I appreciated Mr. Wawro's perceptiveness to the depredations which soldiers on both sides were subjected to while their leaders angled politically, or failed to do so. This account in many ways highlights the war as a harbinger for struggles to come (e.g. WWI, WWII) and the logistical pressures which would be "corrected" in following conflicts up to the First World War (Communications, troop movements, supplies). This is perhaps one of the strangest wars I have learned of, as for all the patriotism involved, so much of the circumstances around it show how the respective armed forces were being willed into battle, or battle fatigue by their leadership, so very much against their will. Perhaps because of the bumbling conduct of the French, and the ensuing change of government and depletion of the German invading armies by war, famine, and disease it lies as a bit more of an open book than other struggles. Just as a general simple perception, war sucks.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Wawro gives an excellent summary of this brief war that set into motion the events that would lead to World War I. A good read for anyone interested in seeing how a major power like France was brought down by supposedly inferior enemy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alec Gray

    A concise and readable history of an ignored but very important conflict. Shows the folly of the French and the hard-nosed foriegn policy of the Germans

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rob Humphrey

    Extremely detailed description of the war, its causes, and the personalities involved. I wish there were better maps!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Clint Wyatt

    If you are at all interested in 19th century European history then definitely read Geoffrey Wawro’s ‘The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871.’ Though this conflict is often overlooked in favor of the earlier Napoleonic Wars or later World Wars – two eras with which this one is intimately bound – the author manages to make the conflict stand on its own as a defining period in European history. Foregoing the trap of historical relevancy, Wawro provides only those detail If you are at all interested in 19th century European history then definitely read Geoffrey Wawro’s ‘The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871.’ Though this conflict is often overlooked in favor of the earlier Napoleonic Wars or later World Wars – two eras with which this one is intimately bound – the author manages to make the conflict stand on its own as a defining period in European history. Foregoing the trap of historical relevancy, Wawro provides only those details pertinent to the war. These include the consolidation of the North German Confederation under Prussian (see Bismarck) hegemony following the Second Schleswig War (1864) and the Austro-Prussian War (1866), as well as the fall of the First French Republic and rise of the Second French Empire under Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte following an 1851 coup d’état. These events provide the setting for this book and the conflict it describes. As a further prelude to the war, the author enumerates on the differences between French and German soldiers (long-service professionals vs. universally conscripted greenhorns), the weapons they used (chassepot vs. Dreyse needle gun, mitralleuse vs. Krupp Gun), and the tactics employed (strategic defense vs. enveloping offence). Following this, the author dives into a blow-by-blow account of the war. These include light skirmishes, set-piece battles, and sieges, as well as the politicking and squabbling between everyone involved. Events at places like Metz, Sedan, and Paris will be familiar to anyone after reading this book. Included are pictures, paintings, and – with almost every battle – maps that the reader can use to trace the routes of whole armies, corps, and divisions across France and during battles. However, these maps only provide the units' position at the beginning of the engagement, and thus require a little bit of imagination to recreate the events the author puts down in words. Wawro paints a very clear picture of what he thinks is the most important aspect of the war: the failure of French leadership. This includes a lack of élan and a defeatist nature that was present even before the declaration of war. From Louis-Napoléon and Marshal Bazaine on down, these attitudes festered within the French pysche to the point where, at the end, whole armies were fleeing from battle. On the German side, you have almost the complete opposite: Wilhelm I, Bismark, Moltke, and Roon – and their officers – constantly on the offensive, seeking to bludgeon and strategically envelope their opponent. The dead are testament to the fact that fighting did in fact occur, but it was a lopsided affair, with the Germans constantly on the offensive, attacking either the tail-end of a French retreat or a fortified French position. Repeat ad nauseam. The author details the many ways in which the French could have turned the tides of battles and possibly the war, but thus is the power of hindsight. In the end, Louis-Napoléon was captured at Sedan, both the German Empire and a new French Government of National Defense were declared, and eventually an armistice was signed and the war ended. The author briefly describes the post-war climate. The armistice, which saw France saddled with a war indemnity of 5 billion francs ($15 billion today), lose all of Alsace and large parts of Lorraine, and suffer a German victory parade through Paris did little to diminish the antagonism between France and Germany. More importantly, it upset the delicate balance of power between the major European states (Austria, England, France, Germany, and Russia) and did more to harm Germany’s image than France’s national well-being. Wawro attempts to present these events as a prelude to the breakout of the Great War in 1914, but understandably falls short of any lasting detail. I would recommend Robert Massie’s ‘Dreadnought’ or Barbara Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’ for a detailed description of the events that lead to that fateful year. Overall, this book provides a good account of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. The draw of this book is definitely the individual battles and anyone looking for their fill of 19th century combat will likely be satiated after reading this. The author provides a mid-level account of unit movements, attacks, and retreats, neither focusing on the individual soldier’s life nor glossing over entire conflicts. Though the author does interject his own opinions – a habit that can be forgiven – he does a good job of using direct sources and quotes to let the dead speak for themselves. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in any of the subjects described in the preceding paragraphs, and would encourage them to seek out other books on the subject, including Geoffrey’s Wawro’s other publications.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This is a well written military history of the most significant war in late 19th century Europe. The war led to the unification of Germany in a ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The balance of power established in 1815 was irrevocably changed by Prussia's creation of a German Empire. In 1870 the Prussians were enjoying the fruits of their victory over Austria in 1866. Napoleon III had been in power since 1848 and he no longer inspired enthusiasm in the hearts of the French people. Co This is a well written military history of the most significant war in late 19th century Europe. The war led to the unification of Germany in a ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The balance of power established in 1815 was irrevocably changed by Prussia's creation of a German Empire. In 1870 the Prussians were enjoying the fruits of their victory over Austria in 1866. Napoleon III had been in power since 1848 and he no longer inspired enthusiasm in the hearts of the French people. Count Otto von Bismarck was at the height of his powers. A meeting between the Kaiser and the French ambassador was described in the Ems Dispatch. After Bismarck's editing and a poor translation it was offensive the French over reacted and mobilized. Napoleon's actions helped to isolate France and deprive her of allies in the war. After setting forth the causes of the war the author does an informative sketch of the two armies at the beginning of the war. The French army was an all volunteer army professional army of 400,000 men. The Prussians had an army of almost one million men based upon conscription and the use of reserves on the front line. The French rifle was superior in all respects but this was balanced out by the superiority of the Prussian artillery. The Prussian artillery was breech loading while the French was muzzle loading. When the fighting started the Prussian artillery ruled the battlefield foreshadowing the tactics of World War I. The critical difference between the two armies was their leadership. The Prussian General Staff had great planning capabilities and had developed superior tactics. The French relied on the Napoleonic system of Marshals, great generals who controlled whole armies. In 1870 their generals fought defensively and were enveloped by the Prussians. The author's use of primary sources provides insight into two major factors that led to France's complete defeat. The rank and file of the French Army had no desire to fight. The French soldier had little confidence in their generals and was not motivated to make sacrifices for victory. The Prussians and soldiers from other German states were young and confident. They had been trained to follow orders and to think on the battlefield. The morale of the French generals was no better than the rank and file. They were defeatist and steeped in defensive tactics. The Prussians were supremely confident after their victory over Austria in 1866. The great battle of Sedan where the French army was defeated and Napoleon III captured effectively ended the war. The great victories of the Prussian armies fueled German militarism which contributed to World War I. These victories were as much the product of the incompetence of French leadership as the efficiency of the Prussian armies. I was interested to learn that Phil Sheridan was an observer of the war for the United States. The author's quotes from Sheridan and the British observer provide some interesting insights into the conduct of the war. The author picked out a very interesting quotation from a German officer's diary, " every battle is a skein of personal crises only loosely joined by a plan of operations." He is reminding the reader that there is a temptation in looking back on something as helter skelter as a military battle in 1870 to see patterns and order that was not there in the minds of the participants. I had started this book about five years ago and couldn't get through it. It seems that all of my reading about the American Civil War has changed my attitudes about military history. It is a good book but not excellent and I would limit my recommendation of the book to those interested in military history

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wilson Hines

    What a book! Dealing with the cards that Bismarck had in his hand, the crafty politician absolutely turned Europe inside and out during the 1880's and 1870's. It would seem that every single opportunity that Bismarck had to make Prussia better for His Majesty and His Majesty's subjects, that exactly what Bismarck was able to do. Even if you don't like Bismarck, you had to - you were literally forced to- respect the count, general, and prince. With just as much respect that you hold in the name o What a book! Dealing with the cards that Bismarck had in his hand, the crafty politician absolutely turned Europe inside and out during the 1880's and 1870's. It would seem that every single opportunity that Bismarck had to make Prussia better for His Majesty and His Majesty's subjects, that exactly what Bismarck was able to do. Even if you don't like Bismarck, you had to - you were literally forced to- respect the count, general, and prince. With just as much respect that you hold in the name of Bismarck, you have to hold the same in disdain for Louis Napoleon III. What an imbecile. The French lost the war, not to lack of ability, armament, or even strategy, but due to the likes of Napoleon III and his lethargic generals. The following was an excerpt simply talking about the Council of War meeting with Napoleon and his generals, including the freshly brought forward Bazaine from Mexico - "No wonder Napoleon III and his staff pressed Bazaine for answers; the war would unquestionably begin as a series of linked strategic movements with the Prussians trying to break into Alsace-Lorraine, and the French into the Rhineland or Franconia. Someone the French headquarters needed to mark the way forward, but no one did" [p. 72]. This is really the tell all how they failed. They literally failed by not doing. Bazaine was chased around the entire country side of northern France and the Prussians held him in a siege that wasted away his entire army; he simply refused to make strategic decision and refused to fight, even with a better equipped army! The thing about this war that amazed me second to the ineptness of the Emperor and his generals was how the war was started. Either Bismarck was an incredibly brilliant political strategist or the French leaders, including Napoleon III, were complete fools when it came to politics. You take your pick. While reading the book, when I learned that France declared war on Germany, I was astounded. Completely blown away. It was pure stupidity. In conclusion, Wawro was harsh on Bismarck in the last chapter on the lasting effects of the Franco-Prussian war. Everything from France getting their act together politically and strategically in the 1890's through to the Great War, on into how the great German state forced an incredible arms race with Russia, the U.K's activism, America's waning isolationism, ect, ect. I don't know what to make of it all. If Germany had not unified, are you telling me the art of war would have not further evolved and Russia wouldn't act like Russia always acts, and the U.K wouldn't try to be the quasi-isolated bully they've always been, and that the republicans of France would've been happy? I seriously doubt it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Clay

    Emile Zola, in his novel The Debacle, called the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) the "murder of a nation." Clearly the old France of Napoleon III's Second Empire died a mere month into the struggle, but who killed it? Napoleon himself whose fear of an expanding German state drove him and his government to declare war? The German king William I and his minister Otto von Bismarck who wanted a war to complete their over-arching drive of German national unity? The offensive infantry and artillery tact Emile Zola, in his novel The Debacle, called the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) the "murder of a nation." Clearly the old France of Napoleon III's Second Empire died a mere month into the struggle, but who killed it? Napoleon himself whose fear of an expanding German state drove him and his government to declare war? The German king William I and his minister Otto von Bismarck who wanted a war to complete their over-arching drive of German national unity? The offensive infantry and artillery tactics of Helmuth von Moltke coupled with his brilliant operational understanding of modern warfare? The blundering, dithering, demoralizing, and in the end, defeatist lack of any form of war strategy or battlefield tactics of the French generals Bazaine, de MacMahon, et al? Yes, as Wawro lucidly shows: all hands were on the knife that was thrust deep into the French Empire's heart. The author does a superb job setting the stage for the actual war by detailing the causes and graphically illustrating the radically different approach to warfare and campaigning between the French and the Prussians. The latter were in the midst of revising their tactics and operational understanding after the successful conclusion of the Austro-Prussian War, four years before. The French, on the other hand, though greatly dismayed by the surprising Prussian victory learned seemingly nothing. Complacent hubris and willful ignorance will always trip the guilty. The campaigns and battles themselves are artfully detailed via quotes from a number of primary sources and the writing style and use of language is lucid and crystalline. The maps are well-drawn and help one understand the ebb and flow of the troops. The whole long, drawn-out denouement of the French defeat is painful to follow, but in the end Wawro offers an interesting and trenchant twist on the question of "who won?" Whilst clearly from the military and short-term political viewpoints, the Prussians/Germans were the victors. However, the author postulates that at least partially due to the harsh capitulation terms -- which including embarrassingly (for the French) a Prussian victory parade in Paris, the crowning of William I as German Emperor in Versailles, as well as the more substantive expropriation of the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine -- the seeds were sown for a future war of revenge. In the end we got two, as those that drafted their terms in 1918 sowed yet more seeds.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I picked this book up because I had a decided hole in my knowledge of "progress" in the conduct of military affairs between the American Civil War and World War I. So many advances occurred between the two — trench warfare, the use of Gatling/machine guns, the use of more accurate breech-loading rifles — and it seemed to me that an examination of the principal European war between the two, the Franco-Prussian War, was in order. The Franco-Prussian War itself (in a nutshell) was a war that had no I picked this book up because I had a decided hole in my knowledge of "progress" in the conduct of military affairs between the American Civil War and World War I. So many advances occurred between the two — trench warfare, the use of Gatling/machine guns, the use of more accurate breech-loading rifles — and it seemed to me that an examination of the principal European war between the two, the Franco-Prussian War, was in order. The Franco-Prussian War itself (in a nutshell) was a war that had no reason to be fought. The Prussians entered the war with the goal of using it to coalesce the other German states around Prussia to create a German nation. The French entered the war because the imperial regime of Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) was faltering and Louis figured that a little winnable war against Prussia would rally the country around his reign… and that of his son. At the start of the war, the French had every advantage in terms of manpower and weaponry (except for artillery) and, in fact, the French had the upper hand at the beginning of almost every battle… only to lose each battle because of flawed tactics and a failure to commit reserves at the right time in the right place. The superiority of German artillery counterbalanced everything else in the end. And the Germans ended up marching through Paris. As with most wars, each side drew the wrong lessons in both defeat and victory, all of which manifested itself very plainly in 1914. But the book… This is not a "page turner" kind of book. You will not find compelling anecdotes nor particularly memorable stories. But Mr. Wawro is a competent, concise author who writes with great clarity. He explained clearly the internal pre-war politics in both countries and the events and machinations leading up to the declaration of war. His descriptions of the battles and movements of armies were conveyed in a very straightforward manner. His last chapter outlines very well the lessons that each side "learned", the lessons that each side should have learned, and the impact of both on the Great War. And so, if you are inclined to learn more and are comfortable with reading a very straightforward history, I recommend The Franco-Prussian War highly; otherwise… well, I would move on to some other topic.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ian Fleischmann

    Wawro's history of the Franco-Prussian War is possibly one of the best military histories I've read. The Franco-Prussian war contained what we would now consider all the default phases of the joint phasing construct and showed the weakness of forces designed under the operating concept of short decisive wars when confronted with enemies which do not concede defeat (Iraq anyone?). Wawro's text starts with the discussion of the strategic precursors to war, the operational approaches of both sides, Wawro's history of the Franco-Prussian War is possibly one of the best military histories I've read. The Franco-Prussian war contained what we would now consider all the default phases of the joint phasing construct and showed the weakness of forces designed under the operating concept of short decisive wars when confronted with enemies which do not concede defeat (Iraq anyone?). Wawro's text starts with the discussion of the strategic precursors to war, the operational approaches of both sides, and the tactical capabilities and effects of both belligerents. Napoleon III's lack of a plan contrasted against the detailed plans of the Prussian General Staff showed the weakness of the politics of the French government at the beginning of the war and Moltke and Bismarck's disagreements during the winter of 1870 showed the corresponding political weaknesses in the Prussian camp. This kind of complete coverage (with just the right mix of personal anecdotes) makes this a perfect reference anyone wanting to truly understand the causes, conduct, and ramifications of the Franco-Prussian war. I'll definitely be reading more on this topic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This was a very well-written book depicting a campaign that I was unfamiliar with. If there is one knock against the book, it would be that the battle descriptions were practically the same, and seemed to be done so to illustrate the author's thematic point: that the Prussian rifles were inferior to the French rifles, that the French tactics were inferior to the Prussians and that Prussian artillery saved the day. Though all of that was probably true, all the battle descriptions followed the form This was a very well-written book depicting a campaign that I was unfamiliar with. If there is one knock against the book, it would be that the battle descriptions were practically the same, and seemed to be done so to illustrate the author's thematic point: that the Prussian rifles were inferior to the French rifles, that the French tactics were inferior to the Prussians and that Prussian artillery saved the day. Though all of that was probably true, all the battle descriptions followed the formula of: Prussian general launch futile infantry attacks to seek glory, Prussian troops get slaughtered by the French marksmanship, French could have won the day if they had counterattacked, Prussian artillery saves the day. However, battles are rarely that cut and dried and reading between the lines shows that, while the Prussians did suffer wasteful infantry losses due in their frontal assaults, they did gain ground when necessary in other areas or phases of these battles and were able to advance when fighting in conjunction with the artillery.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul W

    Under the Congress of Vienna Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia committed to conferring to prevent changes to existing borders or governments. But the consensus did not last long. In 1853 an Austro-Franco-Anglo alliance attacked Russia in the Crimea. France went to war with Austria in 1858-59. Prussia, under Bismarck, formed an alliance with Austria to keep the French out of Prussia's war with Denmark in 1864, and then an alliance with France when Prussia attacked Austria in 1866. This Under the Congress of Vienna Britain, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia committed to conferring to prevent changes to existing borders or governments. But the consensus did not last long. In 1853 an Austro-Franco-Anglo alliance attacked Russia in the Crimea. France went to war with Austria in 1858-59. Prussia, under Bismarck, formed an alliance with Austria to keep the French out of Prussia's war with Denmark in 1864, and then an alliance with France when Prussia attacked Austria in 1866. This then formed the backdrop to Franco-Prussian relations in 1870. As Bismarck presciently forecast after Prussia's swift victory over France: the French "will not forgive us our victories now no matter how generous our peace teams." Bismarck's maxim "Great crises provide the weather for Prussia's growth" was to echo through European history for the next 75 years. This is a well-researched and informative book about a lesser-known period in European history.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sam Schulman

    A wonderful book that taught many things I didn't know - that it was the French who had a seasoned professional army and the Germans who had citizen-soldiers; that Prussian generalship was not good, merely a bit less bad than the French; that the French infantry were better armed than the German, but that it didn't matter, because it was settled by artillery; and that Bismarck mis-handled the peace negotiations out of a sense of weakness (!). It also confirmed many things that I already knew: th A wonderful book that taught many things I didn't know - that it was the French who had a seasoned professional army and the Germans who had citizen-soldiers; that Prussian generalship was not good, merely a bit less bad than the French; that the French infantry were better armed than the German, but that it didn't matter, because it was settled by artillery; and that Bismarck mis-handled the peace negotiations out of a sense of weakness (!). It also confirmed many things that I already knew: that liberals are amazingly eager to sell out their most deeply held convictions for the merest soupcon of power, however fleeting; and that aristocrats are amazingly willing to sell the sacred honor of their family for a sum of ready cash sufficient only for the present generation. An utterly pointless war that was hugely consequential for the history of the world.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Reas

    Wawro has written a thorough and definitive history of a pivotal period in European history that occurred several years after the American Civil War. With the successful conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war, France's imperial aims to return to the years under Napoleon that were attempted under Napoleon III, his nephew, were finally ended once and for all, only to see the ascendancy of an even more powerful nation that developed similar goals, Germany. As I have always been curious how a loose c Wawro has written a thorough and definitive history of a pivotal period in European history that occurred several years after the American Civil War. With the successful conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war, France's imperial aims to return to the years under Napoleon that were attempted under Napoleon III, his nephew, were finally ended once and for all, only to see the ascendancy of an even more powerful nation that developed similar goals, Germany. As I have always been curious how a loose confederacy of German-speaking principalities and states could eventually be united to form the nation that created so much devastation in the 20th century, Wawro's historical work does an excellent job in showing how Bismarck used the war for a call to unification.

  23. 4 out of 5

    C. James

    Military history has long held my interest. This book came from a friend who was deep into that sort of thing. I knew next to nothing about this conflict other than the French had their heads handed to them. They won only one battle. Warow sorts out the basis of the conflict and fills in the strategic element with great clarity. I was interested by the fact that prior to this conflict both sides invested in new and improved armaments. The French fielded a new rifle -- the Chassepot breech-loader Military history has long held my interest. This book came from a friend who was deep into that sort of thing. I knew next to nothing about this conflict other than the French had their heads handed to them. They won only one battle. Warow sorts out the basis of the conflict and fills in the strategic element with great clarity. I was interested by the fact that prior to this conflict both sides invested in new and improved armaments. The French fielded a new rifle -- the Chassepot breech-loader which was more accurate and long ranging than the Prussian needle gun. The Prussians, however abandoned their muzzle-loading cannons (still dear to the French) in favor of the latest Krupp breech-loaders firing powerful explosive shells. The Krupp guns carried the day time after time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, a subject I'd heard of plenty of times but knew nothing about. This conflict deserves to be much more widely read, especially by anyone interested in studying WW1, because, in many ways, the effects of this conflict lead directly to WW1. The book itself was very well written and easily accessible. The author does a good job in bringing to life the horror of this war, a conflict that was a real transition from the old Napoleon style of warfare to modern warfare. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, a subject I'd heard of plenty of times but knew nothing about. This conflict deserves to be much more widely read, especially by anyone interested in studying WW1, because, in many ways, the effects of this conflict lead directly to WW1. The book itself was very well written and easily accessible. The author does a good job in bringing to life the horror of this war, a conflict that was a real transition from the old Napoleon style of warfare to modern warfare. Prussia had understood that things had changed, but not France, much to their great cost; but also, perhaps, to Prussia's indirect cost, as well. Would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in military history, or even just European history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Excellent account of the war between France and Prussia, from the political maneuvering from both sides to the strategic campaign and the individual battles. Even though the French had the superior small-arms weapons and the luxury of defensive positions, I was amazed at how disorganized their army was from the top down. Contrast this with the Prussians, with inferior weapons that left them outranged, but possessing a superior command structure capable of utilizing (for its time) state-of-of-art Excellent account of the war between France and Prussia, from the political maneuvering from both sides to the strategic campaign and the individual battles. Even though the French had the superior small-arms weapons and the luxury of defensive positions, I was amazed at how disorganized their army was from the top down. Contrast this with the Prussians, with inferior weapons that left them outranged, but possessing a superior command structure capable of utilizing (for its time) state-of-of-art tactics. Ultimately, infighting and inflated egos among the French proved their downfall as much as the use of Prussia's superior artillery. Recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    George Serebrennikov

    Great description of the events that lead to the establishment of new political reality in Europe by the end of 19th century, and successful conclusion of Bismarck's effort to unite Germany under the leadership of Prussia. Although, the stunning German victory must be attributed to the superior German artillery, rather that strategic genius of the German general staff, and French failure on every level, political, strategic, and tactical, the patterns clearly emerge: Germany becoming the most fe Great description of the events that lead to the establishment of new political reality in Europe by the end of 19th century, and successful conclusion of Bismarck's effort to unite Germany under the leadership of Prussia. Although, the stunning German victory must be attributed to the superior German artillery, rather that strategic genius of the German general staff, and French failure on every level, political, strategic, and tactical, the patterns clearly emerge: Germany becoming the most feared, and very well oiled military machine of the first half of the 20th century, and France past military glory permanently sink into oblivion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A well written military history, although it does hit the midpoint between a gripping, well written read like Meyer's World Undone or McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and a more technical mil hist text. The book basically goes from battle to battle, and in keeping with the author's thesis describes each the same - the French rifles outclass the Prussians, but the Prussian artillery overcomes. The last section is a bit jarring and out of place where instead of a discussion of diplomatic outcomes A well written military history, although it does hit the midpoint between a gripping, well written read like Meyer's World Undone or McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and a more technical mil hist text. The book basically goes from battle to battle, and in keeping with the author's thesis describes each the same - the French rifles outclass the Prussians, but the Prussian artillery overcomes. The last section is a bit jarring and out of place where instead of a discussion of diplomatic outcomes the reader is simply given the author's thesis, told it is correct and that it results in WWI. Despite that this is a good, solid read on this war.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rommel Cesena

    It's the first book I've read about this conflict so I feel like there are still a few loose ends floating around in my head but Wawro did and excellent job in taking me on this terrific journey. The battles, the strategies and the carnage are unbelievable. The historical connections to future military conflicts although obvious once you read about them came to me as a surprise. This book not only ignited my curiosity about the Franco Prussian war, Moltke, and Bismarck but also about the napoleon It's the first book I've read about this conflict so I feel like there are still a few loose ends floating around in my head but Wawro did and excellent job in taking me on this terrific journey. The battles, the strategies and the carnage are unbelievable. The historical connections to future military conflicts although obvious once you read about them came to me as a surprise. This book not only ignited my curiosity about the Franco Prussian war, Moltke, and Bismarck but also about the napoleonic wars and their consequences and the French intervention in Mexico. It feels good to see military history as a sequence of links rather than isolated events and battles.

  29. 4 out of 5

    jeffrey

    Beautifully written account of a short but significant war that is undeservedly little known. The French seemed to have been determined to lose no matter what, frequently snatching defeat from the jaws of victory - not just once, but habitually, even through the endgame of the war. The author identifies multiple instances where the French could have turned the tide of the war, but for want of competent leadership.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Takipsilim

    An improvement on it's predecessor, The Austro-Prussian War Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866, Wawro ably depicts the war that led to Germany's dominance of the European continent. An improvement on it's predecessor, The Austro-Prussian War Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866, Wawro ably depicts the war that led to Germany's dominance of the European continent.

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