The War of the Triple Alliance (1864–70) remains the largest interstate conflict in South American history. Its casualty rates and the number of people mobilized are impressive even by twentieth-century standards. The Road to Armageddon focuses on the destruction of the Paraguayan army, which led to the death of the country's dictator, Francisco Solano López, and much of its civilian population. The book is part of Thomas Whigham's career-long research on the war era. Extensive use of local newspapers and the diaries of combatants, politicians, and diplomats is the book's major contribution to the historiography. Yet excessive detail, which could not be fully developed even in the volume's 600-plus pages, too often compromises the text's fluidity and obscures overarching ideas.

Whigham approaches this multifaceted subject with a detailed narrative centering on an important question: “How [Paraguayans] kept up the fight while their...

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