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Editorial Reviews

Emil Ludwig, in a translation by Eden and Cedar Paul, delivers an illuminating portrait of the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck, who unified Germany through a series of wars. What separates Ludwig's work from mere historical biography, however, is his attempt to demystify Bismarck's mythology and reputation as a ruthless leader by connecting his private life to his public actions. Ken Maxon's inquisitive, dulcet approach keeps the listener fascinated as Ludwig describes Bismarck's early life and rise to power. Bismarck: The Story of a Fighter is a rich analysis that remarkably humanizes Herr Blood and Iron.

Publisher's Summary

Otto von Bismarck was more than a politician and a leader: He was the single driving force that turned the disparate states of Germany into one cohesive empire. He then went on to lead Germany and the rest of Europe into an age of political peace that lasted from 1871 until the outbreak of World War I. Under his influence, Germany thrived. Bismarck’s use of statesmanship to fight for the interests of his country was legendary. As one of the most influential and powerful individuals in his country’s history, Bismarck became a symbol of leadership and pride for German nationalists. The historical conception of him was as the "Iron Chancellor", an unbending and untouchable figure.

In his landmark biography of the man of "blood and iron", Emil Ludwig rejects the pedestal that history has placed Bismarck upon, and instead seeks a historical and psychological understanding of the chancellor "as he really was, and not as distorted by worship." Bismarck was not merely a hard and calculating statesman, but a man ruled by pride, courage, and hatred. To fully comprehend the actions this enigmatic and important character, we must first understand his feelings, his motivations, and his private life.

Beginning with Bismarck’s childhood and delving more fully into his early life than any other work, Ludwig’s landmark volume is invaluable in understanding the forces behind one of the most influential men in modern history.

©1927 Little, Brown, and Company (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"As a human portrait of Bismarck...this book will stand long.” ( Saturday Review of Literature)

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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How badly the narration fits non-fiction

I was so exited to finally find a historic book on Bismarck that I downloaded it without listening to the sample. Bad mistake! This narration makes listening unbearable. I am sure that the narrator's singsong is much better suited to different topics (thinking of romantic novels), but it makes listening to non-fiction a chore. No doubt the story would have developed quite nicely, but I simply cannot take this any longer than the preface. Must always listen to the sample before downloading!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Unbearable to hear

The author follows no timeline or cause and effect progression of events. The whole book seems like a collection of unrelated sentences about Bismarck impossible to follow.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Do not buy this

What disappointed you about Bismarck?

Horrible narration. Audible should probably withdraw this from their catalog.

How could the performance have been better?

Using a barking dog as a narrator would have been better.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment that I wasted a credit.

Any additional comments?

Trust me, do not buy anything from this narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A fairly good account, but not well read.

Bismarck's role in fashioning modern Europe is undisputed, and in hindsight, it seems inevitable that Kaiser Wilhelm II's neglect of one of the crucial pillars in Bismarckian foreign policy, viz., cooperation with the Russian empire should begin the end of European civilisation as one knew it. I am happy to see that the book brings out this point. The author's put just a little too much emphasis on the 'personal' aspects of Bismarck's life, but in this age of 'packaged politicians' and other 'celebrities' devoid of intelligence and sincerity, nobody would assume Bismark to be anything but a human being with some frailities. Being a Junker of the old school, you can hardly expect the old boy to go around oozing wit and joie de vivre. At a time most European politicians were as busy as now to promote themselves than people's real interests, the venerable rascal stands towering above them in his grasp of foreign policy. I think the authors should have talked a bit more about that.

I think the reader should have checked the pronunciation of German words before reading the book. Sometimes, his mispronunciation of German words makes the reading not just irritating, but sometimes ludicrous. For example, he pronounces the word 'Rat' to rhyme with rat the rhodent. So, 'Landrat' becomes a land rat! Rat in German by the way, means something like 'council' 'councillor', 'adviser', etc. Moreover, in some places, the reading is very unclear, and it may be a technical defect.

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too long a tape

What would have made Bismarck better?

just keep to the important matters

Has Bismarck turned you off from other books in this genre?

not yet

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ken Maxon?

nothing wrong with the narrator

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Bismarck?

most of his early life

Any additional comments?

I couldn't stay awake or pay attention some times

2 of 8 people found this review helpful