The Siege that Changed the World. Paris 1870-1871.

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The Siege that Changed the World. Paris 1870-1871.

It is no real secret that over the years there has been little love lost between the French and their Teutonic neighbours. There was a bit of a gap in my knowledge between the Napoleonic dust up with us and the Prussians and the more recent disagreements of the early 20th Century. I was aware that there HAD been a war, a siege of Paris, the advent of bolt action rifles and some lingering disagreement over Alsace and Lorraine but that was it.

The author who goes by the delightful monicker “Tank” Nash has done a very credible job of filling in that gap with this volume. Despite the title Mr Nash does not confine his history to the siege itself but provides a very succinct overview of both Countries political situation, their respective Armies, recent histories, and major movers and shakers. No doubt the names will be familiar to many Napoleon (The third not the ACTUAL Napoleon), King Wilhelm, Bismarck, Moltke.

The two military systems are examined as are the new technologies emerging at that time not least amongst them the Dreyse and Chassepot rifles, the Mitrailleuse gun, Observation Balloons, and breech loading steel artillery pieces. The over confident belligerent French coming up hard against the efficient Prussians who were then melding together the disparate states to form what would become Germany. The results were as interesting as they were predictable and as the author theorises had a profound effect on the future of the world out of proportion to what at face value was a conflict of limited duration between two Countries.

The author does a wonderful job of laying out the major events clearly and logically whilst including interesting and entertaining vignettes of the involved parties both major and minor. The result is an intensely readable book that has educated on the far reaching ramifications of the war which go a long way to explaining many of the events and attitudes of the future First and Second World Wars.
 

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OneTenner

LE
Book Reviewer
I like the look of that one a lot! One for the Christmas list I think.
 
As important for the French State and the way that its populace, and certainly the left, see it was the declaration and suppression of the Paris Commune, which went on whilst the city was still besieged. Indeed, the Krauts, allowed troops in to do the suppression. That was also the first time that the Foreign Legion had fought on French soil. It was a ruthless and bloody episode from both sides, reminiscent of Stalingrad in ferocity and when the Army broke the communards the firing squads used the wall of the cemetery of Pere Lachaise to remove the remaining threat, surrender or not.
 

Chef

LE
As important for the French State and the way that its populace, and certainly the left, see it was the declaration and suppression of the Paris Commune, which went on whilst the city was still besieged. Indeed, the Krauts, allowed troops in to do the suppression. That was also the first time that the Foreign Legion had fought on French soil. It was a ruthless and bloody episode from both sides, reminiscent of Stalingrad in ferocity and when the Army broke the communards the firing squads used the wall of the cemetery of Pere Lachaise to remove the remaining threat, surrender or not.
Described early on in 'Our friends beneath the sand' about the FFL.
 

JINGO

War Hero
Book Reviewer
As important for the French State and the way that its populace, and certainly the left, see it was the declaration and suppression of the Paris Commune, which went on whilst the city was still besieged. Indeed, the Krauts, allowed troops in to do the suppression. That was also the first time that the Foreign Legion had fought on French soil. It was a ruthless and bloody episode from both sides, reminiscent of Stalingrad in ferocity and when the Army broke the communards the firing squads used the wall of the cemetery of Pere Lachaise to remove the remaining threat, surrender or not.
I admit to have been completely ignorant of all these disparate groups literally running riot throughout the siege. It’s a wonder that there was a credible defence at all.
 
We had a Leaving Cert (roughly
A level equivalent) question on how the technological advances of the Franco-Prussian War changed the nature of war
 
Real Time History has been doing a great series on YouTube on the Franco-Prussian War.


Glory and Defeat
 
We had a Leaving Cert (roughly
A level equivalent) question on how the technological advances of the Franco-Prussian War changed the nature of war
I’m thinking the answer goes like: spend a lot on defence.
Hope your neighbour takes note, and is a bit worried.
Spend more, just in case.
Oh, heck, they might be spending, spend more.
Oh, they went round the side. Bugger.
To answer your question, we all learnt a lot. Mainly: firepower wins.
 
Described early on in 'Our friends beneath the sand' about the FFL.

One of my favourite books, along with his Lost Valley about Dien Bien Phu.
 
I’m thinking the answer goes like: spend a lot on defence.
Hope your neighbour takes note, and is a bit worried.
Spend more, just in case.
Oh, heck, they might be spending, spend more.
Oh, they went round the side. Bugger.
To answer your question, we all learnt a lot. Mainly: firepower wins.
As I said technology:
Artillery
Machine guns
Rifles
 
As I said technology:
Artillery
Machine guns
Rifles

Technology on the battlefield had less overall effect on the final result than deep-seated French incompetence in operational and logistic staff work and communications.
 
It was how technology during the Franco-Prussian War changed the nature of war (not of the war)

That had happened already in the US Civil War.
 
We had a Leaving Cert (roughly
A level equivalent) question on how the technological advances of the Franco-Prussian War changed the nature of war
Slightly similar question on the 1987 A-Level History (19th Century European) paper. Describe the impact of technological changes in rifles and railways on warfare. Probably the best answer that I had ever written in an exam. Sadly I wrote it for the 1988 mock exam, and it never turned up in the proper 1988 exam.
 

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