The War of the Triple Alliance was the largest war in the history of South America, but isn't terribly well known in the English speaking world.
This is a rather depressing topic – the entire war was triggered by the overwhelming ambition of Francisco Solano Lopez, the dictator of Paraguay and an admirer of Napoleon. Lopez refused to give up when it became clear that the war was lost, and Paraguay was devastated – losses were so high that the country had a 1-to-4 male to female ratio in the aftermath. Only Brazil's desire to have a buffer zone on the Argentine border prevented the total dismemberment of the country.
The title here is rather misleading. Perhaps because this isn't a terribly well known conflict in Europe, the first half of the book is taken up with a history of the war, from the original Paraguayan raids into Brazil to the overwhelming Allied invasion of Paraguay, the series of conventional battles that decided the rest of the war and on to the period of guerilla warfare that ended with Lopez's death.
The second half of the book looks at the armies involved. These were rather varied in quality, with some units on a par with the best in Europe or the United States. However each army had its limitations – Paraguay suffered from a lack of officers, mainly due to the paranoia of the dictators, Uruguay only had a tiny force, Brazil and Argentina didn't trust each other.
This is a useful English language account of this conflict. The decision to include a history of the war is essential, given the general lack of knowledge of the war, and makes the army section more valuable.
The Road to War
The Paraguayan Army
The Brazilian Army
The Argentine Army
The Uruguayan Army
Author: Gabriele Esposito