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The Paraguayan War 1864–70

The Paraguayan War 1864–70 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review October 2020 Title The Paraguayan War 1864–70
Author Gabriele Esposito Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2019 ISBN 9781472834447
Format 96 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $24.00

Review

Author Gabriele Esposito skillfully surveys South America’s largest, bloodiest conflict in The Paraguayan War 1864-70 – 342 in Osprey’s vast “Campaign” range.

Coverage commences with introductory notes charting “The Triple Alliance at stake in La Plata”.

You almost need the proverbial scorecard to track key players, actions, and dates. And Esposito duly follows with a three-page “chronology” – which, I quickly gleaned, repeatedly clarified both commentary and timeline.

The slim, 96-page study then seamlessly segues to sequential sections on opposing commanders, forces, and plans for Paraguay and its Triple Alliance opponents – Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.

Chronologically organized “campaign” coverage comes next – notably the Battle of Tuyutí, “the largest pitched battle ever fought in South America to date, and resulted in more casualties in a single day than any other battle on the continent”.

Dazzling details abound. Just try repeating, for instance, the “bewildering variety” of Argentine weaponry after just one read.

Dozens of illustrations season the survey. Period photos and engravings preserve events. Illuminating maps chart battles. And action paintings capture carnage.

Nitpicks?

Given the war’s scope and importance to Western Hemispheric history – and the sheer number of details crammed into just 96 pithy pages – Osprey might have considered chronicling the war over two volumes, not one.

Some facets of Esposito’s chronicle, for instance, left me begging for more. Riverine operations – mirroring those of the US Civil War, and revolutionary at the time – receive comparatively cursory consideration. Yet Triple Alliance victory clearly hinged on waterways control.

Still, for English-language readers, this remains a compact, solid survey. Make it your introduction to this crucial conflict.

Recommended!

My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!