The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 Hardcover – 25 Aug 2003
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'… a clear reminder that military history still needs lively and well researched accounts of wars and campaigns … what Wawro has done is to provide a history of the war which exploits to the full the available archive material. With consummate skill he has woven together diplomatic developments before and during the war, the decisions and motives of the key political and military figures on both sides, and military operations with detailed accounts of the fighting in the different battles … Part of the value of this book is that the movements of hundreds of thousands of troops are explained clearly, while the battles are brought to life through the diary and memoir material the author exploits … In addition to its highly readable style, another merit of The Franco-Prussian War is that its author has managed to pack so much material into the 314 pages of text without ever slackening the pace of his narrative … Wawro has written not only an extremely good book, but one which will quickly take its place as the standard single-volume account … university teachers will probably prefer to recommend Wawro's book to their undergraduates. Geoffrey Wawro is to be congratulated on his Franco-Prussian War. It deserves to be in the library of everyone interested in German, French, and European military history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.' German Historical Institute London
'His skills as a battle historian are patent. He has a grasp both of detail and outline. His prose is crisp and clear. He constantly enlivens the technical analysis with the worm's-eye perspectives of the soldiers - a great attraction of the book.' Time Literary Supplement
'Wawro's account of the conflict is brief, to the point and extremely well written … While not neglecting the general picture, Wawro obviously enjoys presenting details of battlefield events, and this is also where his account really adds a new twist that was largely missing from earlier histories of the war … Wawro's history of The Franco-Prussian War has all the ingredients to make it the relevant account of this conflict for the English-speaking world for some decades …'. War in History
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1 violently changed the course of European History. 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, from political intrigues to the bloody battles at Gravelotte and Sedan.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The War was full of issues that returned to haunt Europe and Wawro is very good at pointing out how close (for example) France came to not losing Alsace-Lorraine. How different history might have been.
Wawro's particular strength is to remember that even if the French are in chaos things may not be good on the German side. And so it transpires. Again and again as we marvel at the French mishandling he notes how it could have gone right for them. The ferocious power of the Chassepot and the might of the German gunlines are all sketched out well. Wawro's level of research reminds me of J.R.Hale's books on the Renaissance/Reformation. I can give no higher compliment.
Wawro still seems to have problems with military terminology that were visible in his 1866 book. A particularly glaring one is to say that Prussian lancers carried 'pikes'! He shows an acute understanding of combat at a Corps or Army level - world class in fact. Divisions seem beneath his notice. Battalion and company action gets substantially better coverage than in the previous book. The individual eye witness reports are skilfully woven in. Several times I did note though, that the source of the anecdote was Michael Howard!
There are a number of quite useful battle maps (at the top level). The illustrations are interesting and not just the 'usual'. The pacing and exegesis are superb.
Finally, I just have to note a pattern of inconsistency. Several other 'four star' reviewers have picked this one up too.Read more ›
Wawro takes a very impartial view of both sides.
De opening battles of the war and its pivotal battles at Sedan, Gravelottes and Metz are described in fascinating detail. De many maps are excellent and very helpful.
Completely new to me was Wawro’s conclusion that it wasn’t the Prussians who were that good but much more the French commanders making capital mistakes. The misinterpretation of the Prussian victory by military experts all around lead to the assumption that massive attack was preferable to defensive positions, which was to have tragic consequences in 1914-1918.
My only (small) complaint is that some skirmishes or battles of lesser importance (like the taking of Strasbourg) are briefly mentioned without any further detail. I would have liked to know more about those incidents as well.
Otherwise, an excellent book which I highly recommend.
Excellent book! It tells everything one would want to know, from the background (usually the most interesting topic in historical wars) to how the war was carried-out, both politically and in practice. Comprehensive, informative and very well written.
war,and in particular gives an evocative account that allows understanding of what the men of all levels felt about the war and how they were effected.This adds to the understanding of the the entire war.A fantastic read,I only put it down once and read it all the way through.For military historians,and for wargamers alike (such as myself) this is a fabulous book.I'd recommned it to anybody.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating study of a subject that is little known to Anglo Saxons. It covers political and military aspects very thoroughly and give a little insight into the European wars... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Barry Holland
The author has a great style of well written engaging text with a confident grasp of evidence and his own research. Best history book have read in a good whilePublished on 26 Jan. 2014 by Rob Bob
A good lucid and fairly brief history book of what has become a rather distant conflict. The book fills a gap in an era of history that explains much of the rivalries between... Read morePublished on 7 Jun. 2013 by aurora
This is both a comprehensive and scholarly book which deserves careful reading. It reveals a number of issues on the military conflict which challenge many of the less thorough... Read morePublished on 21 Jun. 2010 by Scrivener
This is great book that sucks you in and spins you from the lofty thrones of Berlin and Versaille to the cornfields being tramped down in front of columns of Saxons and Bavarians... Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2009 by J BYRNE
I decided to buy this book after comparing it with others on the same theme since my knowledge of this part of history was confined to one book on the subject that was entirely... Read morePublished on 15 Feb. 2009 by Bernard Derby
Much better than his book on the Austro-Prussian war this book is very interesting, if still a little dry. Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2007 by John Bland