This is the first of Horne’s trilogy about Franco-German mischief; the other two are about the World Wars. I hadn’t realized how much the Franco-Prussian war set up World War I. If the French are to be chastised for their harsh terms at Versailles in 1918, then the Prussians must answer for what they squeezed out of Paris in 1871. The triumphant unification of Germany actually happened at Versailles even as France was on the verge of surrender. The subsequent removal of so much territory in Alsace and Lorraine virtually guaranteed future conflict. Even an unphilosophical reader must feel a certain poignancy when pondering the endless misery that was being sown for future generations. Furthermore, the Paris Commune that followed the capitulation taught Karl Marx important lessons that were later applied with great success by Lenin. I didn’t know much about French nineteenth century history, but this weird little war is so singular it makes a compelling read.