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The Franco-Prussian War

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  235 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In 1870 Bismarck ordered the Prussian Army to invade France, inciting one of the most dramatic conflicts in European history. It transformed not only the states-system of the Continent but the whole climate of European moral and political thought. The overwhelming triumph of German military might, evoking general admiration and imitation, introduced an era of power ...more
Paperback, 532 pages
Published November 11th 2001 by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Ltd. (first published 1961)
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Manray9
Michael Howard's The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871 is a prize-winning account of the background and conduct of the war that changed Europe and set the course for the twentieth century. The weak Napoleon III, enfeebled by ill health, foolishly went to war to bolster his failing regime, revive his declining popularity, and secure the future of the Bonaparte dynasty. His generals, arrogant and eager for glory, but as ill-informed, unprepared, and shortsighted as he, ...more
Mark
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Howard's history of the Franco-Prussian War has long been regarded as a classic of military history, and after reading it it's easy to see why. His book is a incisive recounting of the combatants and the operations they undertook over the course of the ten-month-long conflict. In the process he identifies the elements that defined the conflict, showing how just ill-prepared the French were for the war they faced, how poorly suited the French generals were for the type of war they were ...more
Jane Griffiths
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was the war which, though short, shaped twentieth century Europe, and whose influence is still felt in this century. I was interested in finding out more because I live in Alsace, and this book really did it for me. I read it on Kindle, but would like it in hard copy because of the maps. His style is very readable, and he keeps to the facts. Interesting on every page.
Tomlikeslife
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about the Franco-Prussian War but I wish the author realized not everyone can read three languages (English, German and French) or that the folks who may be read his book doesn't have a strong grasp of 19th century European history and wouldn't understand statements about past events.
Windsor
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Had a hard time giving this book 4 stars. Not to take anything away from it: it's a well written summary of the war, but that's kind of where it ends. I guess I should have expected that, reading the title. The author claims that although France and Germany are fighting fifty years after the Napoleonic era, they still have, in some ways, to learn the lessons from that war. The French are very offensive at the start, until they aren't and immediately dig in and wait. The author begs the question: ...more
Bill Bruno
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine history of a conflict that proved to be one of the most pivotal wars in history, despite its relatively brief length. It's written in a vivid narrative style that hits all the main points.

His initial chapters set up the foreshadowing for the outcome of the conflict. The reforms of the Prussian army under Moltke as Chief of the General Staff and Roon as War Minister professionalized the Landwehr from a citizens militia into a disciplined reserve, the corps-area system of
...more
Mark Singer
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interrsted in European, German and military history
Recommended to Mark by: No one
This is an excellent example of how military history should be written. Howard uses straight-forward narrations and excellent maps to tell his story. I did not know much about the Franco-Prussian War outside of summations in history textbooks before now, and would recommend this book to anyone interested in European and military history.

What seemed retrospect like a sure Prussian victory is explained as a combination of lack of planning, poor leadership and incompetence of the French and the
...more
Robert
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Sort of the classic, standard history of the war in English. I have no quibble with his conclusions. (The Germans were better organized, The French bit off more than they could chew).
Enrico
Oct 30, 2012 added it
the foolishness of this war, and the french arrogance
and lack of preparedness is explained. an astounding story.
Matthew
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was not what I expected, because my knowledge of the war of 1870 was zero, and my assumptions wrong.

The writing and research are top notch, so it was an easy choice to keep going when the going got tough.

If you arent familiar with the war of 1870, here is what I learned:
- the first third of it was a fascinating section of the lead-up, both in training, organization, and idiocy of politicians and some older generals on both sides. great read.
- a little bit more is the story of the
...more
Gregory
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A solid, if somewhat dated, account of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. I wished it would've had better maps showing troop deployments and movements. Also some photographs would have added to a better understanding. Author has a good sense of satire and humor and points out the numerous errors and mistakes on both sides. The French seemed to be fatalistic and largely incompetent. The Prussians struggled with a long supply line and internal divisions. Prussian commander Helmuth von Moltke ...more
Andrew Turcich
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall an engrossing and well written history of the conflict. At times the flow suffered a little from how the author chose to move between multiple simultaneous events but overall decent. As the author mentions in the short afterword, there was perhaps room for more detail if there'd been time to research some more of the primary sources. However, the work doesn't really suffer from that omission.
Jeff Greason
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The war itself is handled as a thoroughly competent military history. The lessons for a wider audience lay in the first half, where training, planning, resources, and leadership set the stage for the conduct of the war to follow
Christopher Moore
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very concise history of the Franco-Prussian War, a war that needs more attention in order to understand the First World War better.
Alex Jutte
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Not as nearly as good as Geoffrey Wawro's book.
Jbondandrews
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first book on the Franco-Prussian War. Almost a non-starter.
Monty Milne
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not only a superb piece of history writing, but a beautifully crafted work of literature in itself. The narrative kept me turning the pages with excitement, and left me keen to find out more - as every good history book should. Although I read this many years ago (and lent my copy to someone who never returned it, alas) I still have vivid and pleasurable memories of reading it. (I also have vivid and pleasurable memories of the author, for we lived on the same staircase when I was a callow ...more
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Sir Michael Eliot Howard, OM, CH, CBE, MC, FBA, is a British military historian, formerly Chichele Professor of the History of War, Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University, and founder of the Department of War Studies, King's College London.