In this compact and tightly argued essay, the author maintains that the French Third Republic - and European history during this period in general - can only be understood if particular attention is paid to the special relationship that existed between France and Germany. The experience of the French people was so intimately related to that of its closest neighbor that a bilateral perspective becomes unavoidable. Without the unifying theme of Germany's crucial role in acting upon and within the French Republic, this story would become a much more random tale of events. After 1870, an automous national history of France is longer possible.
Allan Mitchell received his Ph. D. at Harvard in 1961, then taught at Smith College (1961-1972) and the University of California, San Diego (1972-1998). His first book was Revolution in Bavaria (Princeton, 1965). That was followed by a trilogy published by the University of North Carolina Press: The German Influence in France after 1870: The Formation of the French Republic (Chapel Hill, 1979); Victors and Vanquished: The German Influence on Army and Church in France after 1870 (Chapel Hill and London, 1984); and The Divided Path: The German Influence on Social Reform in France after 1870 (Chapel Hill and London, 1991). His latest volume was published by Berghahn Books: The Great Train Race: Railways and the Franco-German Rivalry, 1815-1914 (New York and Oxford, 2000). Currently he is preparing a study of the German occupation of Paris, 1940-1944.