For most of its existence German-speaking Europe has been splintered into innumerable states - some substantial (such as Austria and Prussia) and some consisting of just a few Alpine meadows. Its military experience has also been extraordinarily varied: threatened and threatening; a mere buffer-zone, and a global threat. 'Iron and Blood' is a startlingly ambitious and absorbing book. It encompasses five centuries of political, military, technological and economic change to tell the story of the German-speaking lands, from the Rhine to the Balkan frontier, from Switzerland to the North Sea. Wilson's narrative considers everything from weapons development to recruitment to battlefield strategy.