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Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader

Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader

by Matthew Qvortrup

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The illuminating and in-depth biography of Angela Merkel, using exclusive new sources and research to tell how the daughter of a clergyman from East Germany rose to become one of the most powerful women in the worldThis is the fascinating tale of Angela Merkel’s political ascent, in which she outmaneuvered her male colleagues and made Germany the strongest


The illuminating and in-depth biography of Angela Merkel, using exclusive new sources and research to tell how the daughter of a clergyman from East Germany rose to become one of the most powerful women in the worldThis is the fascinating tale of Angela Merkel’s political ascent, in which she outmaneuvered her male colleagues and made Germany the strongest economy in Europe. With the storytelling gifts of a novelist, as well as nuanced political expertise garnered from over a decade of experience as an academic and journalist, Matt Qvortrup gives readers unprecedented, personal insight into Frau Merkel’s upbringing under communism, describing how the Secret Police tried to recruit her as a spy, how she lived as a squatter in Berlin, and how she went from distributing leaflets to sitting at the Cabinet table in Helmut Kohl’s government in less than a year. This is the story—told for the first time in English—of how Merkel and her staff of mostly female advisors repeatedly outsmarted the old boys network of conservative male politicians in Germany, turning her country into a more liberal and more prosperous place.Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader combines the narrative of Merkel’s life with a vivid account of German history from 1945 to the present day, featuring cameo appearances by Willy Brandt, Konrad Adenauer, and Helmut Kohl. At a time when Merkel is the chief representative of the west in the negotiations with Putin over the Ukraine, she is also the woman who holds the keys to British membership of the EU. Anyone interested in our time, in the politics of today, should read this lively account of the woman with a doctorate in quantum physics who has become the undisputed queen of Europe.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Qvortrup presents a well-researched but unsatisfying biography of Germany’s chancellor. He follows Merkel’s path: a Lutheran girlhood in East Berlin, her first marriage, her years as a scientist, her entry into politics during German reunification, and her rise to the chancellorship, which he follows right up to the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis. The book reads more as a history than a biography; the early chapters are heavy on historical context and light on personal detail and later chapters explore political negotiations and decision-making, with very few explorations of Merkel’s non-work life or of her psychology and motivations. Qvortrup’s writing comes alive when recounting political machinations (such as those behind Merkel’s 2005 electoral win), but the overall narrative and prose are workmanlike at best and clunky at some points. (On the building of the Berlin Wall: “The Cold War had entered a new phase and life would never be the same again. Not until 1989, at any rate.”) The reader leaves the book with plenty of facts about Merkel’s life and possessing a better understanding of recent German politics, but knowing little more of Merkel’s worldview, motivations, and personality. (July)
“Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany for the past 11 years; arguably, she remains the most powerful political leader in Europe. Yet most Americans are unfamiliar with her personal or political life, so this first English-language biography can help alleviate that shortcoming. A well-written and informative tribute to an extraordinary political leader.”
Midwest Book Review
“Impressively researched, exceptionally detailed, extraordinarily well-written, organized and presented, Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end.”
Aviel Roshwald
“A sympathetic, engaging and informative political biography of one of Europe's foremost contemporary leaders. Qvortrup's highly readable prose leads one on a dramatic, whirlwind tour of a history that is still unfolding before us.”
Arend Lijphart
“Written in a lively and engaging style,Angela Merkelis a joy to read. It is anextraordinary and incisive book,which gives us a unique insight into the life and times of the woman who almost single-handedly transformed the politics of her country and of the world.”
Professor Ludger Helms
“In Angela Merkel, Matthew Qvortrup masterfully weaves together the key episodes of this turbulent life and most unlikely political career, and provides compelling evidence that there is no better way toward a deeper understanding of the present than revisiting the past.”
Amitai Etzioni
“In a world full of disappointing national leaders,
Matt Qvortrup provides us with an insightful, revealing, vivid reading of a leading woman who tops them all.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-05-05
A biography of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (b. 1954) that provides insight and clarity into Germany's often underreported role in shaping the European political landscape.In his retelling of the trajectory of Merkel's career path, Qvortrup (Political Science/Coventry Univ.) highlights differences in cross-Atlantic political culture in ways no news account can. The daughter of a Lutheran minister in communist East Germany, Merkel was a prizewinning student in mathematics and languages who went on to complete a doctorate in quantum chemistry. Only with the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did she enter the political arena. Her rise to political prominence was rapid and dramatic. As an emerging politician in the East, she won sponsorship from leaders in the West, among them Helmut Kohl, who served as chancellor from 1982 to 1998. Male chauvinist opponents derisively called her "Kohl's little girl," but they learned one among many such lessons when she successfully overthrew Kohl as party leader in a corruption scandal. Qvortrup makes clear that the qualities of character she brought to bear were significant; her rise was not just a result of the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right people. As chancellor, the author demonstrates, Merkel has shown a meticulous attention to detail and "obsession with getting the facts right" that can be traced back to her childhood: when she was 9, her motto was "never show incompetence." Merkel combined those qualities with ruthless courage in seizing opportunities as she became head of her party and then the government. Consolidating power in Europe's strongest country, she also became the continent's major political leader. Qvortrup outlines both the depth and flexibility of a mind and character unbound by the limits of ideology. This eye-opening biography, drawing from rich behind-the-scenes knowledge, is necessary reading for anyone who wants to broaden his or her perspective on the world today.

Product Details

The Overlook Press
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Qvortrup is currently professor of political science at Coventry University’s
Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations. Previously, he was academic director in the Department of Security and Management at Cranfield University.
He was educated at Oxford and the University of Copenhagen and has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Sun, The Scotsman, and The Times.
He also appears as a regular commentator for the BBC, on both radio and television.

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