Rachel Chrastil – Bismarck’s War
Less than a month after it marched into France in summer 1870, the Prussian army had devastated its opponents, captured Napoleon III and wrecked all assumptions about Europe’s pecking order. Other countries looked on in helpless amazement. Pushing aside further French resistance, a new German Empire was proclaimed (as a deliberate humiliation) in the Palace of Versailles, leaving the French to face civil war in Paris, reparations and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine.
Bismarck’s War tells the story of one of the most shocking reversals of fortune in modern European history. The culmination of a globally violent decade, the Franco-Prussian War was deliberately engineered by Bismarck, both to destroy French power and to unite Germany. It could not have worked better, but it also had lurking inside it the poisonous seeds of all the disasters that would ravage the twentieth century.
Drawing on a remarkable variety of sources, Chrastil’s book explores the military, technological, political and social events of the war, its human cost and the way that the sheer ferocity of war, however successful, has profound consequences for both victors and victims.