“Professor Sir Michael Howard, who died in November aged 97, was the wisest person I have ever known,” says Sir Max Hastings, the British journalist whose past posts include as foreign correspondent for the BBC, editor in chief of The Daily Telegraph, and editor of the Evening Standard. Here, Hastings, whose new book, Operation Chastise: The RAF’s Most Brilliant Attack of World War II, is out next month from Harper, provides a guide to the late Michael Howard’s greatest works—writings that “will live on,” he says, “for the acuity of their judgments on contemporary as well as past events.”

The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870–1871

This book, published in 1961, remains the standard—as well as, by far, the most readable—account of the struggle that convinced the new Germany’s leaders that war worked well for them.