Bismarck's War

Bismarck's War

The Franco-Prussian War and the Making of Modern Europe


'Compassionate and thought-provoking history' Daily Telegraph

'Superb on the human consequences of war, ravishing in its evocations of wartime life' The Times

'Fresh and compelling ... a tour-de-force' David A. Bell

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.


  • Compelling, illuminating ... Chrastil's compassionate and thought-provoking history does justice to both sides of this legacy, the great statesman's achievements tempered with their human cost.
    Camilla Cassidy, Daily Telegraph

About the author

Rachel Chrastil

Rachel Chrastil is a professor of history at Xavier University and the author of Organizing for War: France 1870-1914, The Siege of Strasbourg and How to Be Childless: A History and Philosophy of Life without Children.
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