The Wars Of German Unification, by Dennis Showalter
Anytime I request a book from the Michigan War Studies Review , I am committing to a pretty ambitious review of a book. Each book review for this journal is intended to be 1500-2500 words (on at least one occasion, even longer) and it requires a detailed analysis, and a great deal of difficult writing to finish the project successfully. Therefore, when I request a book to review for them, I do so with the knowledge that I am giving myself a challenging and rigorous assignment to complete within 90 days. I try my best, although I am not always successful, to request books that I think will be particularly meaningful and worthy of the large investment of time and effort on my part to read review these materials, and the latest book from this journal that I have received appears that it will meet that challenge quite well, being an extensive revision of the author’s book on the three wars of German unification between 1864 and 1871: the Schleswig-Holstein conflict, where Austria and Prussia joined to take on the Danish king, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, where Prussia and a few allies overcame the rest of Germany and Austria and won a stunning and quick victory in the course of six weeks, and the equally shocking Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871, which prompted the union of Germany and set in stage the context from which World War I came about.
I must admit that my own reading of these wars springs from a variety of origins. For one, as a student of military history, I am particularly fond of the 19th century, which has been the period of most of my reading and writing about history, from the first stirrings of my passionate interest in the American Civil War. I also have an interest in the wars of German unification because they formed an important context in my Norwich capstone paper on the Prussianization of the Chilean army after 1891, which depended on the rising prestige of the German army after 1871 in order to happen at all. Chilean soldiers wear pith helmets and march in German goosestep fashion in large part because of the surprising success of the Prussian army in these three wars, which enabled Germany to overtake France as the premier military to copy for nations in search of a prestigious model by which to overawe their potentially aggressive neighbors. It is my hope that this book, which is written by one of the premier military historians of the United States, serves as a fitting book to help further my knowledge of these wars in their overall context, and to provide a useful source for future writing and reflection on the military history of the 19th century and its importance for later developments.
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