Bismarck and the Development of Germany: The Period of Unification, 1815-1871

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Overview

The three volumes of this monumental work on Bismarck and his times constitute not only a finely honed analysis of a perplexing and enduringly fascinating human being but also a masterful study of nineteenth-century Germany. The product of a lifetime of scholarship, Otto Pflanze's trilogy blends into a single synthesis all aspects of the German historical experience, from the economic and social to the political and intellectual, in their relationship to Bismarck and his career. The purpose is to describe the interaction between a man of genius and the forces that both molded him and were reshaped by him--an objective that cannot be achieved within the limits of the customary biographical form.The author emphasizes the need to reassess the German past in view of the terrible tragedy of the twentieth century. Addressing this task in the most comprehensive way possible, Pflanze offers fresh insights into the functioning of both the internal and international political systems of the Bismarck era. At the same time Bismarck, the man, has not been neglected. The three volumes of the work combine to produce a vivid picture of this narcissistic personality, demonstrating the connections among health, neurosis, and political judgment. For the first time we can see the entire person and how his strengths and weaknesses became the key to modern German history.Volume I: The Period of Unification, 1815-1871"The stream of time flows inexorably along. By plunging my hand into it, I am merely doing my duty. I do not expect thereby to change its course." This was the thought with which Otto von Bismarck began his career in the Prussian foreign service in 1851. Yet the will to power was the central characteristic of his personality. Describing the interaction between the "stream of time"--or social, political, intellectual, and institutional forces--and the character of one of history's greatest political talents, the author probes Bismarck's role in the unification of Germany and assesses his influence on the subsequent course of German history. Volume I of Pflanze's work was first published in 1963, to wide acclaim. Presented here is a revised edition that incorporates the most recent research and appears simultaneously with the first publication of Volumes II and III.Volume II: The Period of Consolidation, 1871-1880Volume II opens at a time when Bismarck had become the dominant figure in German and European politics and the new German Reich the most formidable power on the continent. Questions arose. What new goals would the "man of blood and iron" now pursue? What new conquests might be necessary to satiate a people steeped in the history and legends of medieval empire? Pflanze offers a comprehensive treatment of the years of consolidation, when, in reality, German unification introduced not a new era of conquest and bloodshed but a period of international order that lasted, despite many crises, for more than forty years.Volume III: The Period of Fortification, 1880-1898The burst of capitalistic expansion that accompanied German unification came to an abrupt end with the crash of 1873, which opened a period of economic depression. Volume III describes the continuation of Bismarck's efforts to cope with the resulting economic and social problems that hindered his quest for a new national consensus in support of the Prussian-German "establishment." It also brings to a climax the author's account of Bismarck's mounting political frustrations, their psychopathological consequences, and the struggle of his doctors to convert him to a healthier life-style. The final chapters deal with the fascinating story of Bismarck's conflict with Wilhelm II. The work ends with an account of the Bismarck legend that endures to this day and may yet influence Germany's current quest for reunification.
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Editorial Reviews

Central European History
Of the scholarly works on German history published in the United States during the decade of the 1960's, none is likely to be more enduring than the first volume of Bismarck and the Development of Germanyby Otto Pflanze. . . . This is history conceived on a grand scale and executed with an expert hand.
— Allan Mitchell
Political Science Quarterly
German émigré training and the critical involvement of the interested outsider have combined to produce some notable achievements in the American scholarship on German history prosecuted since the war, and on the basis of this first volume it can be confidently anticipated that Otto Pflanze's study of Bismarck will rank with the best of them. For here is historical biography in the approved grand manner, the public life of a major figure set solidly in the political relations and movements of the time, recounted with the judiciousness that is a blend of detachment and understanding, and presented with the articulated clarity and the modulations of gravity and whimsicality that are the marks of good writing. . . . It is now the standard authority for Bismarck's early regime.
— Leonard Krieger
New York Times
By virtue of his superb mastery of the vast Bismarck literature and by his own sound historical sense, Mr. Pflanze cuts through many of the ideological controversies which have hitherto obscured rather than illuminated Bismarck. Nor is this focus narrowly biographical. Rather he seeks to grasp both the man and the forces with which he had to contend, and the result is a clear view of the interplay of German internal development with Bismarck's diplomacy and wars. . . . Mr. Pflanze's work will long endure as an excellent study of the public career of an extraordinary statesman.
— Fritz Stern
Saturday Review
This is an admirable book, a credit to American scholarship, by far the best treatment of Bismarck to appear in English. A product of the most meticulous investigation, it is beautifully researched. More than just another biography of Bismarck, it is also a perceptive history concentrating on the interaction between domestic developments and Bismarck's diplomacy and wars up to 1871.
— Louis L. Snyder
Central European History - Allan Mitchell
Of the scholarly works on German history published in the United States during the decade of the 1960's, none is likely to be more enduring than the first volume of Bismarck and the Development of Germanyby Otto Pflanze. . . . This is history conceived on a grand scale and executed with an expert hand.
Political Science Quarterly - Leonard Krieger
German émigré training and the critical involvement of the interested outsider have combined to produce some notable achievements in the American scholarship on German history prosecuted since the war, and on the basis of this first volume it can be confidently anticipated that Otto Pflanze's study of Bismarck will rank with the best of them. For here is historical biography in the approved grand manner, the public life of a major figure set solidly in the political relations and movements of the time, recounted with the judiciousness that is a blend of detachment and understanding, and presented with the articulated clarity and the modulations of gravity and whimsicality that are the marks of good writing. . . . It is now the standard authority for Bismarck's early regime.
New York Times - Fritz Stern
By virtue of his superb mastery of the vast Bismarck literature and by his own sound historical sense, Mr. Pflanze cuts through many of the ideological controversies which have hitherto obscured rather than illuminated Bismarck. Nor is this focus narrowly biographical. Rather he seeks to grasp both the man and the forces with which he had to contend, and the result is a clear view of the interplay of German internal development with Bismarck's diplomacy and wars. . . . Mr. Pflanze's work will long endure as an excellent study of the public career of an extraordinary statesman.
Saturday Review - Louis L. Snyder
This is an admirable book, a credit to American scholarship, by far the best treatment of Bismarck to appear in English. A product of the most meticulous investigation, it is beautifully researched. More than just another biography of Bismarck, it is also a perceptive history concentrating on the interaction between domestic developments and Bismarck's diplomacy and wars up to 1871.
From the Publisher
"Of the scholarly works on German history published in the United States during the decade of the 1960's, none is likely to be more enduring than the first volume of Bismarck and the Development of Germanyby Otto Pflanze. . . . This is history conceived on a grand scale and executed with an expert hand."—Allan Mitchell, Central European History

"German migr training and the critical involvement of the interested outsider have combined to produce some notable achievements in the American scholarship on German history prosecuted since the war, and on the basis of this first volume it can be confidently anticipated that Otto Pflanze's study of Bismarck will rank with the best of them. For here is historical biography in the approved grand manner, the public life of a major figure set solidly in the political relations and movements of the time, recounted with the judiciousness that is a blend of detachment and understanding, and presented with the articulated clarity and the modulations of gravity and whimsicality that are the marks of good writing. . . . It is now the standard authority for Bismarck's early regime."—Leonard Krieger, Political Science Quarterly

"By virtue of his superb mastery of the vast Bismarck literature and by his own sound historical sense, Mr. Pflanze cuts through many of the ideological controversies which have hitherto obscured rather than illuminated Bismarck. Nor is this focus narrowly biographical. Rather he seeks to grasp both the man and the forces with which he had to contend, and the result is a clear view of the interplay of German internal development with Bismarck's diplomacy and wars. . . . Mr. Pflanze's work will long endure as an excellent study of the public career of an extraordinary statesman."—Fritz Stern, New York Times

"This is an admirable book, a credit to American scholarship, by far the best treatment of Bismarck to appear in English. A product of the most meticulous investigation, it is beautifully researched. More than just another biography of Bismarck, it is also a perceptive history concentrating on the interaction between domestic developments and Bismarck's diplomacy and wars up to 1871."—Louis L. Snyder, Saturday Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691007656
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1971
  • Pages: 526
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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