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Among the conflicts that convulsed Europe during the nineteenth century, none was more startling and consequential than the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871. Deliberately engineered by Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the war succeeded in shattering French supremacy, deposing Napoleon III, and uniting a new German Empire. But it also produced brutal military innovations and a precarious new imbalance of power that together set the stage for the devastating world wars of the next century.

Today’s guest is Rachel Chrastil, author of “Bismarck’s War: The Franco-Prussian War and the Making of Modern Europe.” We see how the war reshaped and blurred the boundaries between civilian and soldier as the fighting swept across France by bolstering a unified Germany to contributing to the development of modern warfare.


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