About the book (from Wikipedia):
La Débâcle is a novel by Émile Zola published in 1892, the penultimate in les Rougon-Macquart series. The story is set against the background of the political and military events that ended the reign of Napoléon III and the Second Empire in 1870, in particular the Franco-Prussian War, the Battle of Sedan and the Paris Commune.
About Zola (from Wikipedia):
Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola ( April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was a French writer, the most well-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J’accuse. Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.