The awesome figure of Otto von Bismarck, the ’Iron Chancellor’, dominated Europe in the late 19th century. His legendary political genius and ruthless will engineered Prussia’s stunning defeat of the Austrian Empire and, in 1871, led to his most dazzling achievement - the defeat of France and the unification of Germany. In this highly acclaimed biography Edward Crankshaw provides a perceptive look at the career of the First Reich’s mighty founder - at his brilliant abilities and severe limitations and at the people who granted him the power to transform the shape and destiny of Europe.
Edward Crankshaw (1909 - 1984) was a British writer, translator, and commentator on Soviet affairs. Born in London, Crankshaw was educated in a non-conformist public school, Bishop's Stortford College in Hertfordshire. He began his career as a journalist at at The Times, a position he only held for a few months. In the 1930s he lived in Vienna, Austria, teaching English and learning German (his competent grasp of German led him to become part of the British Intelligence service during World War II). On his return to England he went back to working for The Times and also began to write reviews - mostly musical - for The Spectator, The Bookman, and other periodicals. Crankshaw wrote around 40 books on Austrian and Russian subjects and after the war began his research in much more depth. Crankshaw's book on Nazi terror, Gestapo (1956), was widely read; in 1963 he began to produce more ambitious literary works, often on historical or monumental moments in Russian Political history.
©1969 Edward Crankshaw (P)2013 Audible Ltd
I almost did not buy this after a review for this book that said the author assumes that the reader knows a lot of European history.
Eventually I bought this book and I'm very glad I did. The author only assumes readers (1) know the very basics of Prussia, Junkers, and the formation of German; (2) know the causes of WW1 and the players involved; and (3) know a bit about HItler.
I like the style of this book, because it doesn't focus on every mundane detail of Bismark's life, or spend time analyzing his grandparents like other authors would (I don't care about the grandparents of famous historical figures). Instead, it mostly sticks to explaining and analyzing Bismark's personalty, career and political maneuvers.
Also, unlike many biographers, this author is not afraid to expressly judge his subject or the impact he had on his country. He thinks Bismark was immoral and not quite as far-sighted as most historians seem to think. The author also thinks Bismark actions contributed to leading Germany into WW1 and WW2. In fact, the author probably goes a bit overboard in this direction, but nevertheless this makes for interesting, rather easy, listening.
If you are interested in WW1 and want to get more into 19th century European history, I would suggest this book. Also you should get it if you heard extraordinary claims about Bismark and are interested in learning more about the man.
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