Customer Reviews for

Bismarck: A Life

Average Rating 3
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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Ruthless Giant Dominating Lilliputians with Blood and Iron

    Jonathan Steinberg explores, with strong opinions, the life and career of Otto von Bismarck from three angles: Bismarck, the man; Bismarck, the genius-statesman; and Bismarck the Iron Chancellor as an icon. Steinberg clearly demonstrates that Bismarck was a pragmatic, ruthless giant, operating in a world populated with Lilliputians. As Prime Minister of Prussia, Bismarck single handily capitalized on the benevolent, weak personality of King and then Emperor, Wilhelm I, to create Modern Germany at the expense of the Kingdom of Denmark, the House of Habsburg, Imperial France, and the German states between 1863 and 1870. Bismarck would not have succeeded in his belligerent policies without the support of brilliant military men such as Albrecht von Roon and Helmuth von Moltke, to whom Wilhelm I gave the command of his armies. As the Iron Chancellor, Bismarck dominated the German Second Reich until his removal from power in 1890 by Wilhelm II with the same ruthlessness, thanks to what Steinberg describes as the uncanny, diabolical personal power that he had over men and affairs. By 1890, Bismarck was already a living legend who embodied the greatness of Germany. Steinberg is definitely at his most controversial when he explores the personality of Bismarck, the man. Bismarck comes out as a violent, intemperate, hypochondriac, and misogynist man who most feared, with very good reasons, to ever cross in their lifetime. Unfortunately, for his creation and the world, Bismarck bequeathed Germany with an unstable web of institutions that he was the only one to temporarily master. The outcome of this instability was two successive world wars at the hands of German leaders, who did not know their limits unlike Bismarck. A humbled Germany rose from its ashes, like the Phoenix under the responsible leadership of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and his successors in the aftermath of WWII.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    Bismarck

    Very good biography, paints a picture of a key time in modern European history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    To much detail

    To much detail and to many names. Unless you already know a lot about Bismark it is hard to follow.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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