Book Review: The German War of 1866: The Bohemian and Moravian Campaign

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by Theodor Fontane, translated by Frederick Steinhardt, and edited by Gerard W. Henry.

Warwick, Eng.: Helion. / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2021. Pp. 476. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio. $59.95 paper. ISBN: 1914059298

Military Operations in the Austro-Prussian War

Originally published in German in 1870, Theodor Fontane’s account of events in the principal theatre of the Seven Weeks War appears here for the first time in unabridged translation. It is one of several books Prussian novelist, poet, and historian Fontane (1819-1899) wrote on the wars of German unification that have not previously been available in English.

The German War of 1866 is a fine example of nineteenth century military history. After a very brief introduction on the causes of the war, Fontane follows with a short profile of the geographic setting, and then plunges pretty much right into the action, not even spending any time describing the organization, equipment, or even the plans of the combatants. Nevertheless, we do get an excellent treatment of movements and actions, often of the smallest size.

Unfortunately, Fontane fails to get into the details of organization, equipment, tactics, which presumably is probably based on the assumption that contemporary readers would have understood those. More serious is that this is essentially an operation treatment, and he thus pretty much omits any discussion of the reasoning behind plans and decisions, which is unfortunate

The German War of 1866, a volume in the Helion series “From Musket to Maxim, 1815-1914”, is a good read for anyone seriously interested mid-nineteenth century European military history and the wars of German unification.

 

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Note: The German War of 1866is also available in several e-editions.

 

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium (www.nymas.org)

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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