- Paperback: 330 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (September 13, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521629519
- ISBN-13: 978-0521629515
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 Reprint Edition
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"The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 started the modern Hundred Years' War that did not end until 1945. Professor Geoff Wawro's book is the most comprehensive treatment of the subject. Thoughtful and well written, it is a major contribution to an understanding of history." Henry Kissinger
"The Austro-Prussian War is an outstanding work, illustrating once again that operational military history can make important and enjoyable contributions to understanding the past. A must for undergraduate, graduate, and specialist collections." Choice
"Geoffrey Wawro's lively and insightful new study offers the reader a view of the familiar events of the Königgrätz campaign from the relatively unfamiliar perspective of the AustrianFeldzeugmeisterLudwig Benedek's headquarters." German Studies Review
"Wawro's discussion of the strategic plans and dispositions of the three major belligerents and Austria's lesser allies is excellent. The simple maps aid understanding of the deployment and mofvements of widely separated forces on terrain unfamiliar to most American readers." SFC John T. Broom, Military Reviews
"Comprehensive, erudite, balanced, and clearly written, we have here the best work on this war in any language." J. Arden Bucholz, Central European History
"...offers a curious mixture of historical writing. ...Wawro presents excellent campaign history, particularly of the little-covered events in the Italian theater of operations. ...truly valuable for its narrative of events in the Italian theater." Scott W. Lackey, Historian
"This is an extraordinarily luminous book about not only a war but also a continent and a century. Written with verve and wit, The Franco-Prussian War harnesses scholarship and story-telling to wonderful effect. Geoffrey Wawro has given us a magnificent yarn." Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"As the author of a history of the Franco-Prussian War that has held the field for some forty years, I was deeply apprehensive when I learned that Dr. Wawro was at work on another. I had good cause to be. His work is magnificent. The research is both wide and deep, the operational analysis masterly, and there is not a dull page in the book. Dr. Wawro has established himself as one of the leading military historians of his generation." Sir Michael Howard
"A lively narrative history, based on an abundance of new research." MacGregor Knox, The London School of Economics
This is a new history of the Austro-Prussian-Italian War of 1866, which paved the way for German and Italian unification. Geoffrey Wawro describes Prussia's successful invasion of Habsburg Bohemia, and the wretched collapse of the Austrian army in July 1866. Blending military and social history, he describes the panic that overtook Austria's regiments in each clash with the Prussians. He reveals the blundering of the Austrian commandant who fumbled away key strategic advantages and ultimately lost a war --crucial to the fortunes of the Habsburg Monarchy-- that most European pundits had predicted they would win.
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I have since read Wawro's "The Franco-Prussian War", and it is another triumph of historical work.
The Austro-Prussian War consists of 11 chapters, beginning with strategy and tactics in 1866 and origins of the war. Two more chapters cover opposing war plans and Italian involvement in the conflict. The fifth chapter covers the Battle of Custoza and the rout of the Italian Mincio Army. The next three chapters cover the covering force battles that preceded the decisive battle of Königgrätz, and then the next two chapters cover the battle itself. A final chapter covers the aftermath of the battle, which does an excellent job discussing the results and implications of the war. The author has included many sketch maps in the book, which while useful, are rather crude and incomplete. None of the maps have scales or depict railroad lines, or even depict tactical movements. I found it necessary to consult another source on the war that had better maps, to follow the author's narrative. There are also a number of photographs, mostly of Austrian generals (note, other than one photo of Moltke, there are no photos or illustrations from the Prussian side). The author includes excellent footnotes and a detailed bibliography, but no appendices. An appendix listing rival orders of battle and casualties in the war would have been useful.
For military professionals, the author's discussion of the development of Austrian "fire tactics" and the needle gun will be an interesting evolutionary study. While the author notes that not all Prussian commanders subscribed to these tactics, the superiority of the tactics in themselves are not so clear because the author tends to ascribe too much importance to the needle gun. The author ignores the importance of combined arms tactics in favor of over-emphasis of one weapon system. While the needle gun was revolutionary as the first mass-produced breech-loading rifle and conferred firepower advantages to the Prussian infantry, the rest of the Prussian combined arms team was pretty weak. Prussian artillery was obsolescent, Prussian cavalry was timid and poorly trained and the vital support services were not up to supplying a fast-moving campaign. On the Austrian side, the retention of column assaults bordered on reactionary but such tactics did not become truly obsolete until the introduction of the machinegun. Austrian artillery and cavalry was superior, but these arms were improperly used. Two interesting areas of modern military technology that the author fails to address in detail are the use of telegraph and railroads. While the author does mention that the Austrians foolishly shunned the use of telegraphs, they do not seemed to have suffered badly for it, but the Prussians who did use telegraphs were often out of communications and suffered badly from lack of adequate command and control. The military use of the railroad is hardy mentioned, and one wonders why Benedek - who enjoyed an excellent rail net in Bohemia and Moravia - was constantly marching his troops to and fro instead of using rail lines to transfer troops rapidly.
The author's conclusions about the implications of the war are also striking, "the complete triumph of Prussian grand strategy in 1866 served to tighten the political connection between the Prusso-German state and army. After 1866, the example of Königgrätz suggested that Prussia-Germany could extend its influence and make vast annexations against any rival if only it struck fast and hard enough. This thinking, which originated with Clausewitz and Moltke, would be the basis of Prusso-German military strategy in 1870, 1914 and 1939." The author notes that other armies attempted to copy the Prussian military professional standards after Königgrätz, but none fully succeeded. Indeed, the Austrians failed to learn much from their defeat and in fact their military capabilities declined. However, one interesting question that the author does not ask is that given the demonstrated military incompetence of the Austrian and Italian armies in 1866, why did Prussia choose to later ally itself with such second-rate powers? In choice of weapons and tactics the Germans clearly excelled, but in choice of allies they were clearly inferior.