The Rise And Fall Of The Great Powers

1178 words - 5 pages

As Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, explains in his opening paragraph, "this is a book about national and international power in the 'modern'--that is, post-Renaissance""period." The book includes information regarding the various "˜Great Powers' and their paths over the last five centuries. Kennedy seeks out how each as risen to prominence and fallen away from power. The book has a great deal to do with the major wars that have shaped the time period and how the wars have had an impact on the "˜economic change' of the powers. For example, the Industrial Revolution, and how it effected the production of wartime weaponry. The revolution also had an effect on the development of iron clad steam-powered ships to gain power during naval battles in early wars. The time period was a constant struggle to move ahead in the technological race. Overall, this book hunts to survey the ups and downs of the international powers and their balance since the decline of the Spanish Empire.Wars were a major part of the development of the world, as we know it today. There were numerous battles, but three that stand out in the historical development of warfare are the Franco Prussian War, the American Civil War, and World War II. These wars all had a major impact on the expansion of the major powers.The first of the major wars that Kennedy explains is The Franco Prussian War. The war was part of the "struggle for mastery in Germany." It occurred from1870 to 1871. The war was provoked by Otto von Bismarck as part of his plan to create a unified German empire. Bismarck surmised that his publication of the EMS Dispatch would stir the French government into declaring war (on July 19, 1870) on Prussia and that the other German states would fall into line behind Prussia. A brilliant campaign led by von Moltke brought a string of German victories, culminating in the French rout at Sedan, where the emperor, Napoleon III was captured (Sept. 1). In Paris, Napoleon was deposed and a provisional government was formed, but French resistance was made useless after the surrender of the French commander, Marshal Bazaine, at Metz (Oct. 27). Paris, however, held out until Jan. 1871, when the Prussian siege finally succeeded. France was forced to pay a huge indemnity and to give up most of Alsace and Lorraine. Again Paris resisted, until the new French government crushed the Commune of Paris militarily. The war had far-reaching consequences. The German Empire was proclaimed (at Versailles on Jan. 18, 1871), and Prussian militarism and imperialism had triumphed.The second war of significance was the American Civil War. Kennedy describes the Civil war as the greatest war in American history. It was waged in numerous places-from Valverde, New Mexico, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. More than three million Americans fought in it and more than 620,000 men died in it. It was not only the immensity of the fight but the new weapons, the new...

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