‘No one interested in the history of Europe can afford not to read this stupendous book’ Simon Heffer, Daily TelegraphFrom the acclaimed author of Europe’s Tragedy and The Holy Roman Empire, a powerful account of German-speaking Europe through five centuries of military historyFor most of its existence German-speaking Europe has been splintered into innumerable states – some substantial (such as Austria and Prussia) and some consisting of just a few Alpine meadows. Its military experience has also been extraordinarily varied: threatened and threatening; a mere buffer-zone, and a global threat. Iron and Blood is a startlingly ambitious and absorbing book.
It encompasses five centuries of political, military, technological and economic change to tell the story of the German-speaking lands, from the Rhine to the Balkan frontier, from Switzerland to the North Sea. Wilson’s narrative considers everything from weapons development to recruitment to battlefield strategy. Germans’ military impact on the rest of Europe has been immense.
If there is one constant it has been the sense of being beset by seemingly more powerful enemies – France or Russia or Turkey – and the need to strike a rapid knockout blow to ensure a favourable result. Almost inevitably, this has in practice meant protracted, relentless and often unwinnable wars, and – in 1939-1945 – moral catastrophe. The author of definitive books on the Holy Roman Empire and the Thirty Years War, Peter Wilson has with Iron and Blood written his masterpiece.