This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest…

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 (original 2003; edition 2003)

by Geoffrey Wawro (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
241775,898 (4.02)8
"The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 violently changed the course of European history. Alarmed by Bismarck's territorial ambitions and the Prussian army's crushing defeats of Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866, French Emperor Napoleon III vowed to bring Prussia to heel. Digging into many European and American archives for the first time, The Franco-Prussian War describes the war that followed in thrilling detail. Prussia and its German allies had twice as many troops as the French. But Marshal Achille Bazaine's grognards ('old grumblers') were the stuff of legend, the most resourceful, battle-hardened, sharp-shooting troops in Europe, and they carried the best rifle in the world. From the political intrigues that began and ended the war to the bloody battles at Gravelotte and Sedan and the last murderous fights on the Loire and in Paris, this is the definitive history of the Franco-Prussian War."--Jacket.… (more)
Title:The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871
Authors:Geoffrey Wawro (Author)
Info:Cambridge University Press (2003), Edition: 1st, 344 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Franco-Prussian War : The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871 by Geoffrey Wawro (2003)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 8 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This is a non-fic about one of the ‘forgotten wars’ of the 19th century, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. While it is mainly a military history, there are a lot of vignettes and more general history.

The pre-history: on one side Prussia with Bismarck, growing world power, winner of 1866 war with Austria. On the other – France, which holds to its Napoleonic past (from, the structure of army to his nephew as the current emperor) and assumes that it is able to press others to do what France wants. Bismarck fires up French by a series of provocations (which France is eager to follow) to declare the war on Prussia (thus losing potential favorable international opinion).

France’s army was smaller and older, with professional solders, mostly uneducated. It has two wunderwaffen – Chassepot rifle, which shot further and more precise then Prussian needle rifle; and Mitrailleuse – early modern machine gun, which doesn’t swivel, so its volleys were more spectacular than effective sweeping fire. Prussian had their wunderwaffen as well Krupp’s steel tube guns with a great range. Their army was larger, conscripted and more educated, which is a great boon in the industrial era.

The armies also had quite almost opposite approaches to the war: Germans attacked again and again, each attempt quickly gaining support of the neighboring units, fallen officers quickly replaced but educated NCOs; French based everything on their old glory, long-range rifle and static defense, the latter pulverized by Krupp’s guns. Another problem is a constant bickering among French high command, were everyone wanted honors but not the responsibility, so they march their troops to exhaustion only to leave them under enemy fire.

To a large extent this war, more than any other led to the WWI as we know it – French elan tactics, fight for Alsace and Lorraine, raise of Germany with resulting fear of it, assumption that a future war should be short, so its ok to throw millions of solders into this meatgrinder, and so on.

A great history book for everyone interested in the period.
( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
Read it twice! ( )
  Sean_Murphy | Dec 23, 2017 |
Read it twice! ( )
  Sean_Murphy | Dec 23, 2017 |
This is a well written military history of the most significant war in late 19th century Europe. The war led to the unification of Germany in a ceremony in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The balance of power established in 1815 was irrevocably changed by Prussia's creation of a German Empire.
In 1870 the Prussians were enjoying the fruits of their victory over Austria in 1866. Napoleon III had been in power since 1848 and he no longer inspired enthusiasm in the hearts of the French people. Count Otto von Bismarck was at the height of his powers. A meeting between the Kaiser and the French ambassador was described in a document known as the Ems Dispatch. Bismarck's editing of the document and a poor translation made the content very offensive offensive to the French. Napoleon III over reacted and ordered mobilization. Napoleon's actions helped to isolate France and deprive her of allies in the war.
After setting forth the causes of the war the author does an informative sketch of the two armies at the beginning of the war. The French army was an all volunteer army professional army of 400,000 men. The Prussians had an army of almost one million men based upon conscription and the use of reserves on the front line. The French rifle was superior in all respects but this was balanced out by the superiority of the Prussian artillery. The Prussian artillery was breech loading while the French was muzzle loading. When the fighting started the Prussian artillery ruled the battlefield foreshadowing the tactics of World War I.
The critical difference between the two armies was their leadership. The Prussian General Staff had great planning capabilities and had developed superior tactics. The French relied on the Napoleonic system of Marshals, great generals who controlled whole armies. In 1870 their generals fought defensively and were enveloped by the Prussians.
The author's use of primary sources provides insight into two major factors that led to France's complete defeat. The rank and file of the French Army had no desire to fight. The French soldier had little confidence in their generals and was not motivated to make sacrifices for victory. The Prussians and soldiers from other German states were young and confident. They had been trained to follow orders and to think on the battlefield.
The morale of the French generals was no better than the rank and file. They were defeatist and steeped in defensive tactics. The Prussians were supremely confident after their victory over Austria in 1866.
The great battle of Sedan where the French army was defeated and Napoleon III captured effectively ended the war. The great victories of the Prussian armies fueled German militarism which contributed to World War I. These victories were as much the product of the incompetence of French leadership as the efficiency of the Prussian armies.
I was interested to learn that Phil Sheridan was an observer of the war for the United States. The author's quotes from Sheridan and the British observer provide some interesting insights into the conduct of the war.
The author picked out a very interesting quotation from a German officer's diary, " every battle is a skein of personal crises only loosely joined by a plan of operations." He is reminding the reader that there is a temptation in looking back on something as helter skelter as a military battle in 1870 to see patterns and order that was not there in the event.
I had started this book about five years ago and couldn't get through it. It seems that all of my reading about the American Civil War has changed my attitudes about military history. It is a good book but not excellent and I would limit my recommendation of the book to those interested in military history. ( )
1 vote wildbill | Jun 16, 2011 |
4216 The Franco-Prussian War The German Conquest of France in 1870-1871, by Geoffrey Wawro (read 7 Oct 2006) This is a 2003 book by a historian now with the Naval War College at Newport, RI, and I found it exceptionally well-done, though some of the detailed accounts of each battle, especially the ones before Sedan, were tedious. The account of how the war came about is super-interesting. Napoleon III wanted a war to solve his domestic problems! How idiotic! The Ems Telegram was deemed insulting to France, so France declared war. Not much went right for France in the war. The German behavior in the war was atrocious, prefiguring frightful German behavior to come in future wars. This is a most interesting and worthwhile account of a most important war. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Oct 24, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Winslow and Matías.
First words
There were two Prussias in 1870.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.02)
2 1
3 9
3.5 2
4 16
4.5 2
5 12

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 142,383,630 books! | Top bar: Always visible