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France at Bay 1870-1871 (ePub)

The Struggle for Paris

Military > Biographies > Military Biographies

By Douglas Fermer
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 9.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 280
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
ISBN: 9781844689040
Published: 22nd March 2011


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The Franco-Prussian War did not end with the catastrophic French defeat at Sedan on 1 September 1870 when an entire French army surrendered, the Emperor Napoleon III was captured and his regime collapsed. The war went on for another five agonizing months, and resolved itself into a contest for Paris - for while Paris held out, France was undefeated. The story of this dramatic final phase of the war is the subject of Douglas Fermer’s masterly account, the sequel to his Sedan 1870. He weaves this story of military victory and defeat into a gripping narrative and it sets the extraordinary events of nearly 150 years ago in the wider context of European history.

Readers will find France at Bay a very interesting and informative account of the last phase of the Franco-Prussian war.

October—November 2022 The Napoleonic Historical Society Newsletter

The Franco-Prussian War set the stage for the next forty years of seeming peace and stability. This was the last major conflict on the European continent until 1912. Unfortunately, these forty years are like a slow-burning fuse that would lead to the cataclysm of the First World War. This is a worthwhile read and can give a new perspective.


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France at Bay, Douglas Fermer's second volume on the Franco-Prussian War, takes up the eclipse of France following Napoléon III's surrender at Sedan on Sept. 2, 1870. Upon reaching Paris, news of the emperor's capitulation prompted the overthrow of the Second Empire and the formation of the provisional Government of National Defense.

The author describes, step by step, the military reorganization of a new French army by the republican government. The architects of that resurgence were Léon Gambetta, a statesman of Italian origin from the city of Nice, and his deputy, Charles de Freycinet, an engineering genius.


The author has done a great service in compiling this volume. He has conducted first class research and he not only presents the hard facts of the campaign but he also intertwines vivid eyewitness accounts from both combatans and non-combatans.

Dr Stuart Blamk - Military Archive Research

France at Bay is the follow-up volume to Fermer's well-received Sedan, 1870: the eclipse of France (2008), and as such, completes his magisterial treatment of the Franco-Prussian War.

Fermer's meticulously researched account does not skimp on the detail of the various personalities on both sides- the chapter on the Army of the Loire is particularly fine.

Fermer's absolute mastery of the sources, both primary and secondary, combined with the liveliness of his writing, make this an important work that will be read and enjoyed for years to come.

Military Times by Toby McLeod
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