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Iron and Blood

Iron and Blood

A Military History of the German-speaking Peoples Since 1500



'No one interested in the history of Europe can afford not to read this stupendous book' Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph

'Endlessly fascinating
... History has returned to Europe, and Iron and Blood is an excellent place to start getting reacquainted with it' The Times

From the acclaimed author of Europe's Tragedy and The Holy Roman Empire, a powerful account of German-speaking Europe through five centuries of military history

For most of its existence German-speaking Europe has been splintered into innumerable states - some substantial (such as Austria and Prussia) and some consisting of just a few Alpine meadows. Its military experience has also been extraordinarily varied: threatened and threatening; a mere buffer-zone, and a global threat.

Iron and Blood is a startlingly ambitious and absorbing book. It encompasses five centuries of political, military, technological and economic change to tell the story of the German-speaking lands, from the Rhine to the Balkan frontier, from Switzerland to the North Sea. Wilson's narrative considers everything from weapons development to recruitment to battlefield strategy. Germans' military impact on the rest of Europe has been immense. If there is one constant it has been the sense of being beset by seemingly more powerful enemies - France or Russia or Turkey - and the need to strike a rapid knockout blow to ensure a favourable result. Almost inevitably, this has in practice meant protracted, relentless and often unwinnable wars, and - in 1939-1945 - moral catastrophe.

The author of definitive books on the Holy Roman Empire and the Thirty Years War, Peter Wilson has with Iron and Blood written his masterpiece.

'Hugely impressive' Richard J. Evans, Times Literary Supplement


  • The scholarship of this book is breathtaking [and] Wilson relates it with a command of his subject that is unparalleled. No one interested in the history of Europe, and of the Germans in particular, can afford not to read this stupendous book.
    Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph

About the author

Peter H. Wilson

Peter H. Wilson is the author of the highly acclaimed Europe's Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War (2009) and The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe's History (2016). He is the Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford.
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