Michael Howard's work is considered by many to be the standard work on the period. Interestingly this war, that between its ending in 1871 and the start of the First World War in 1914 was the most written about campaign in history, has been somewhat overshadowed now, to the extent that many English speaking people are entirely unaware that there was a Second French Empire with another Bonaparte on the throne. Michael Howard's work, written in the 1960s, when French student demonstrations were linked very closely with the Paris comune of 1871, is really a reexamination of the conflict that shaped Europe. Whereas previous studies, certainly near contemporary ones, focussed on the military lessons that should be learnt before the next European war, Howard looks at the conflict from more of a political angle. Certainly for the student of military history this gives a good overview, but specific detail on battles is light. This is more of a "Clausewitzian" work, charting the combined military and political progress of the campaign. This work is a good starting point for any student of the period looking to take their first steps into this conflict. Over recent years this period of history has become more accessable through the publication of more works, such as the reprinting of the Prussian Staff Histories, and other contemporary works form both sides. Howard's work will, however, give us a solid foundation for our studies, particularly as the author seems to have little or no ploitical axe to grind.