And the balance of power in Europe shifted, as Katja Hoyer recounts in her history of the nation, from its unification through the First World War.

Blood and Iron: The Rise and Fall of the German Empire, 18711918, by Katja Hoyer (History Press, 272 pages, $27.95)

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he 1860s were a tumultuous time. Many Americans associate the decade with the U.S. Civil War, which the historian Shelby Foote called “the crossroads of our being.” But while the United States was enduring its own fiery trial, the balance of power on the European continent was also shifting in ways that would change both Europe and the world forever.

The wars of German unification led to the establishment of Germany in 1871. However, the founding of the new state wasn’t declared


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