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DAY OF BATTLE: Mars-La-Tour Paperback – July, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn (July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841581216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841581217
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,546,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on March 24, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Day of Battle is an excellent tactical-level account of the Battle of Mars-la-Tour on 16 August 1870, which author David Ascoli claims not only decided the outcome of the Franco-Prussian War but the future of Europe. For readers accustomed to operational-level accounts by Howard and Wawro that discuss the war in toto, Ascoli's narrative offers an interesting dissection of the conflict from the ground level. However much of the author's narrative focuses on the odd behavior of the French commander who threw away potential victory at both Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte-St. Privat: Marshal Bazaine. Both battles were unusual in that a string of German mistakes and favorable terrain offered the French a real chance to inflict crushing defeats on the Germans, but in each case the opportunity was wasted.
The first third of A Day of Battle Consists of the period leading up to Mars-la-Tour, including the outbreak of war, mobilization and the frontier battles. After suffering several tactical defeats on the border against the invading German armies, Ascoli describes how the two main French armies - one under Marshal MacMahon and the other under Marshal Bazaine - were ordered to fall back toward Paris to regroup. Marshal Bazaine's Army of the Rhine managed to elude the German pursuit and reach the fortified supply base at Metz, from whence he was supposed to continue the retreat to Verdun in order to link-up with MacMahon's army. However, Bazaine delayed the march to Verdun for crucial hours, allowing the pursuing Germans to slip a corps-size blocking force around his flank and block the Metz-Verdun road.
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Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book on the battle of Mars-La-Tour which also gives an excellent account of the lead-up to and aftermath of the battle so one gets a good feel for how the actions of the protagonists affected subsequent events. The author is a bit more sympathetic towards Marshal Bazaine than some other writers, without in any way minimising his responsibility for the catastrophe that France suffered in 1870, and more critical than many on von Moltke. After reading this book one begins to see just why the French were so aggressive in their battle tactics in 1914, with the tragic results that shaped much of 20th century French history. This book should be read alongside the excellent books by Howard and Wawro on the Franco-Prussian War.
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A very good book, with lots of detail and enough maps to keep the reader visually organized with the text on what is happening hour by hour. If only Ascoli's outright personal disdain for Marshal Bazaine were kept in check throughout the book, I'd give it another star.
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Just what I wanted and expected. Very detailed and surprisingly humorous... read it and see for yourself!
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In depth discussion of a crucial battle. Shifts between events on the field and the mental and emotional stresses on the commanders.
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