The Franco-Prussian War And The Making of Modern Europe

Robert Gewarth at Literary Review:

In 1867, shortly after Prussia’s decisive military victories over Denmark (in 1864) and Austria (in 1866), a dinner guest asked the Prussian prime minister, Otto von Bismarck, about the prospect of a further armed conflict, this time against France. Would it be expedient to somehow provoke a French attack on Prussia in order to unify the German states against a common enemy? Bismarck rejected the idea: ‘Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.’

Three years later, however, that war had become a reality, and it would radically alter the balance of power on the Continent. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 was Europe’s bloodiest conflict between the Congress of Vienna (1814–15) and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Some two million soldiers saw action and more than 180,000 died.

more here.