“Bismarck’s War” review: a quick but fateful fight

“Bismarck’s War” review: a quick but fateful fight

“Two brothers were gone; only one returned,” writes Rachel Chrastil. The survivor was Dietrich von Lassberg, a 22-year-old subordinate in the Bavarian army. A year earlier, he had exulted in his diary: “War! War with France! The brother who died was Rudolf, shot in the head during a battle near Orléans in November 1870. On Christmas Eve, Dietrich sat around the campfire in silent misery, drinking hot toddy in a tin cup, dreaming of his family in Munich, and reflecting on the “dark side and horror” of war. In “Bismarck’s War: The Franco-Prussian War and the Making of Modern Europe,” Ms. Chrastil, a historian at Xavier University, skillfully uses Dietrich’s diary and other sources to enliven her broader analysis of origins and progress of the war.

Although the six-month Franco-Prussian War was among the shortest of all major European conflicts, it brought Dietrich and his comrades visions that deprived them of any temptation for triumphalism. The combination of new deadly weapons (breech-loading rifles, machine guns, steel cannons) and enormous armies left mountains of dead and hordes of wounded mutilated for life: during the murderous engagement of Gravelotte in August 1870, the Prussians lost twice as many men as they had killed. had throughout the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.

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With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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