Charles Ryan was an Irish surgeon from Tipperary who served with a horse-drawn Anglo-American ambulance unit in the latter stages of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. This vivid account of his experiences is a fascinating glimpse of the war and the siege of Paris which concluded it from a civilian whose work involved him at the sharp end. The book opens by describing the disastrous French debacle at Sedan where an army commanded by the Emperor Napoleon III in person was trapped and crushed by the artillery of surrounding Prussian forces despite heroic charges by the French cavalry. Later in the war Ryan’s unit saw the war at close quarters on both sides of the lines - inside besieged Paris and at the Prussian HQ at Versailles. Because this account compiled from Ryan’s own recollections and his letters home was not originally written for publication it has a freshness and an immediacy that make it a classic of 19th century humane war reportage.
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