4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The best war novel ever,
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This review is from: The Debacle: (1870-71) (Classics) (Paperback)
The Debacle is Zola's penultimate book in the 20 novel cycle about the Rougon-Macquarts. This is the best war novel I have ever read, and I rank it as good as Germinal. Its backdrop is factual, narrating the last days of Napoleon III and his ill-fated campaign in Europe, culminating in the humiliating defeat of the French Army in the Franco-Prussian war. The novel brings to life the horrors of war, the suffering of people, the occupation of France by the Prussian Army under the reign of the German Kaiser and the leadership of Bismarck, the revolt of the communes, the civil war, the blockade of Paris, the raging fires, and the republican movement and restoration of the third republic. The Emperor was taken prisoner and exiled to England, the Empress Regent later joining him. Through all these events, we follow the life of several fictitious characters representing the various elements of French society. The novel ends with the notion that France was atoning for its decadence and wayward ways during the two decades of La Belle Epoque. Reading this novel completed my understanding of that era in French history, and of the life of Emperor Napoleon III whose mausoleum in Farnborough Hill in England I have visited before. It's a beautiful book to read.