Academic journal article Military Review

The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866

Academic journal article Military Review

The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866

Article excerpt

THE AUSTRO-PRUSSIAN WAR Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 by Geoffrey Wawro. 313 pages. Cambridge University Press, New York. 1996. $59.95.

Within a little less than a year after the American Civil War's end, a major war erupted in central Europe. Unlike the Civil War, the Austro-Prussian War was short and decisive. This major conflict is little known and less understood in America than it should be, especially by military professionals.

In many ways, the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War, were far more influential in the development of modem warfare than was the so-called "first modem war"-the American Civil War. Geoffrey Wawro's work should somewhat redress this imbalance.

This book begins with a survey of warfare's changes between the time of Frederick the Great and 1866. The survey, uneven at first, improves as it nears the mid-19th century. Wawro then briefly details the diplomatic reasons why Prussia, under Prince Otto Edward Leopold von Bismarck, sought this war.

The war was clearly a cabinet war, designed to clear Austrian influence from northem and central Germany and to reduce it greatly in the south, thus opening the way for Prussian hegemony within all of Germany. Wawro does not overdo the diplomatic background, yet provides a clear, concise explanation of Bismarck's policy and maneuvers.

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 movements of widely separated forces on terrain unfamiliar to most American readers. As Wawro discusses the early movements and initial battles between the Austrians and their Italian and Prussian enemies, the connections between three widely separated theaters of war become apparent. …

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