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Posted March 24, 2003
The Rise of Germany, the Decline of France
Michael Howard produced a first rate account of the Franco-Prussian War. The importance of this war and its consequences cannot be overstated. The triumph of German arms and the failure of the French method of war portends the tragedies that befall France in the two World Wars. To truly understand World War I and its causes, a serious scholar needs to start with this book. Many professionals and military history students casually disregard German feats of arms based on the shallow analysis that they lost both World Wars. The author clearly illustrates the success of the German method and the French failure to adapt. Unfortunately, this war is overshadowed by the events of the 20th Century, though it rivals the Napoleonic Wars in importance in the 19th Century. The Germans defined military professionalism in the industrial age by their success in this war, leading them on the path to militarism. France was never able to fully recover from their humiliating defeat after their pre-war bellicosity. This is a must read book in European military history. As is common in older editions, the maps in this book leave a lot to be desired. Hopefully, this shortfall has been corrected in the recent revised edition.
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