Bismarck: A Life

Bismarck: A Life

by Jonathan Steinberg

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview


This riveting, New York Times bestselling biography illuminates the life of Otto von Bismarck, the statesman who unified Germany but who also embodied everything brutal and ruthless about Prussian culture.

Jonathan Steinberg draws heavily on contemporary writings, allowing Bismarck's friends and foes to tell the story. What rises from these pages is a complex giant of a man: a hypochondriac with the constitution of an ox, a brutal tyrant who could easily shed tears, a convert to an extreme form of evangelical Protestantism who secularized schools and introduced civil divorce. Bismarck may have been in sheer ability the most intelligent man to direct a great state in modern times. His brilliance and insight dazzled his contemporaries. But all agreed there was also something demonic, diabolical, and overwhelming in Bismarck's personality. He was a kind of malign genius who, behind the various postures, concealed an ice-cold contempt for his fellow human beings and a drive to control and rule them. As one contemporary noted: "the Bismarck regime was a constant orgy of scorn and abuse of mankind, collectively and individually."

A brilliant study in power, this comprehensive biography brings Bismarck to life, revealing the stark contrast between the "Iron Chancellor's" unmatched political skills and his profoundly flawed human character.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199975396
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 189,615
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author



Jonathan Steinberg is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania, and Emeritus Fellow, Trinity Hall, Cambridge. His books include Yesterday's Deterrent: Tirpitz and the Birth of the German Battle Fleet and All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941 - 1943.

Table of Contents



1. Introduction Bismarck: Sovereign Self
2. Bismarck: born Prussian and what that meant
3. Bismarck: the "Mad Junker"
4. Bismarck Represents Himself, 1847 to 1851
5. Bismarck as Diplomat 1851-1862
6. Power
7. "I have beaten them all! All!"
8. The Unification of Germany 1866 to 1870
9. The Decline Begins: Liberals and Catholics
10. "The Guest House of the Dead Jew"
11. Three Kaisers and Bismarck's Fall from Power
12. Conclusions: Bismarck and His Legacy
Bibliography

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Bismarck 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
sergevansteenkiste More than 1 year ago
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.
JakeFarmer More than 1 year ago
Very good biography, paints a picture of a key time in modern European history.
jacoombs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A clear, well-written and thoughtful life of Bismarck that simultaneously acknowledges the achievements and marvels at the weaknesses. The verdict: the creation of a major world-power against all odds, but one which was fundamentally flawed in ways which led to the rise of the Nazis.
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