For nearly a century from 1859 to 1945, Germany dominated the European political and military landscape. During this time, it fought four wars – War of German Unification; Franco-Prussian War; World Wars I and II – winning two and losing two. Michael A. Palmer chronicles this time in his book The German Wars: A Concise History, 1859-1945.
Palmer does an excellent job of compressing a lot of information into 232 pages. Obviously with a work this size he does not go into great detail, but he provides enough information for you to get the gist of a subject. For example, he highlights the reasons for World War I, but does not get bogged down in the minutiae.
I am particularly intrigued by Palmer’s last chapter on conclusions that can be drawn from the wars. He points out an inherent flaw in the German plans for World Wars I and II – the planners expected the wars to be over quickly and thus they did not plan for a war that lasted longer. For instance, German war production for World War II did not reach maximum efficiency until the war was several years along because the Germans thought their inventories at the beginning would be sufficient for a short war..
lfred GrafThroughout the book, Palmer has side notes on various topics pertaining to the wars. He uses these side notes to help flesh out points. For example, in his discussion of World War I, Palmer discusses how General Alfed Graf von Schlieffen was obsessed with repeating the Battle of Cannae against the French. Palmer explains the various weaknesses of this plan and its impracticality against the French.