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Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-speaking Peoples Since 1500

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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. Its military experience has also been extraordinarily threatened and threatening; a mere buffer-zone, and a global threat.

The whole book, at 900+ pages, serves as a massive and clear counterpoint to received wisdom — that there is no special "German way" (Sonderweg) — and that the historical analogies that remain are, as the saying goes, both convincing in their simplicity and completely wrong. The book finishes with a look at re-unified Germany, leading to the events of the day, and even here the author keeps his eye on the ball. A work of first-rate scholarship, rooted in broad and deep knowledge of the period and literature… Iron and Blood will become the starting point for all students of military history, not only of Germany but of Europe as a whole. What Frederick the Great's ultimate, and only partial, success in the Seven Years War did go to show was that a quick and decisive victory, achieved through pre-emptive strike, was the pattern by which Prussian (and later German) armies could expect to win against a coalition of enemies to their east and west. Iron and Blood is also ambitious in its contextualisation of military history, drawing on political, economic, and social developments.Just because we know what happened next doesn't mean that this could be seen with any certainty at the time. Iron and Blood follows his epic history of the Thirty Years War and his even more epic history of the Holy Roman Empire. From the author of the acclaimed The Thirty Years War and Heart of Europe, a masterful, landmark reappraisal of German military history, and of the preconceptions about German militarism since before the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Wilson's magisterial tome entitled "Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples Since 1500" (to be published by Harvard University Press). While many conflicts and specific battles are referenced in passing here, the author's themes are far grander in design.

But nonetheless I enjoyed reading through some of the trivia, especially around the late medieval and early modern eras, as well as the longstanding German obsession in the 20th century with a quick victory to stave off an extended two-front war. Nevertheless, these are minor drawbacks that do not detract significantly from the overall quality of the work. Astonishingly ambitious and detailed…An absorbing overview of how slowly changing societal forces—such as fiscal systems, scientific and technological capabilities, ideological and cultural beliefs, and the social background of soldiers—have transformed the use of military force across modern times. There is a lot of history going on and I frequently had to check on what or who something was and when something occurred.

The focus is on the consciousness of the German people now citizens about their military past, present, and future.

A DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022'No one interested in the history of Europe can afford not to read this stupendous book' Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph'Endlessly fascinating . The title, "Iron and Blood," aptly captures the essence of the German experience, encapsulating the indomitable spirit and tumultuous history that have shaped the German-speaking peoples. Wilson goes through painstaking detail to describe the ever-changing political landscape of Europe leading up to World War I and II…A fascinating study. To explain modern Germany’s aggression, Anglophone military historians have often claimed the existence of a uniquely German way of war.I think the book could've been edited down a lot with the stats moved to the footnotes since they didn't necessarily clarify the main points the author was making. It begins with the early modern period, a time of great political fragmentation and religious upheaval. President of the Society for the History of War and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Wilson is Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford. This is a book well worth having for anyone looking for reasons for military evolution through the middle of Europe before and during the Early Modern Period, which informs the shape of European interaction in the 20th Century. This is very comprehensive but as with his 100 Years War book, Wilson has trouble not getting swamped in his narrative by including every historical event or detail.

Wilson looks to dispel the myth that the German military really is based on the Prussian model and that it was at its peak in the 2 World Wars. This doctrine was proved blindingly successful in Bismarck's 1870 war against France, but was devastatingly wrong in 1914. It is also, I think, a way for many in the UK to cling onto the comforting illusions that helped sweeten the pill of post WWII decline.Of course this reading of history was bollocks and this, as well as Peter Wilson's other books on the Holy Roman Empire and Thirty Years War, are a reminder that history should never be written 'after the fact'. There is no equivalent study of this quality for Germany, nor, indeed, really for any other European state, so Wilson deserves considerable praise for a work which should receive much attention…This brilliant book sets a model for other works. Only after Prussia’s unexpected victory over France in 1871 did Germans and outsiders come to believe in a German gift for warfare—a special capacity for high-speed, high-intensity combat that could overcome numerical disadvantage. I would never suggest that this is a book not worth reading but it is not one I felt that I had to read.

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