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Bismarck and the German Empire

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For most people Bismarck is the man of "blood and iron"; he coined the phrase himself and he lived up to it. But he was much more; he had an itellectual ascendancy over all the politicians of his day, and his superiority was acknowledged not only by his own people, but by all European statesmen. The unification of Germany, the defeat of Austria, the fall of the Second Empir For most people Bismarck is the man of "blood and iron"; he coined the phrase himself and he lived up to it. But he was much more; he had an itellectual ascendancy over all the politicians of his day, and his superiority was acknowledged not only by his own people, but by all European statesmen. The unification of Germany, the defeat of Austria, the fall of the Second Empire, the defeat of France, the alliance of the German Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, the dismemberment of Denmark—these are his most obvious achievements; no less important was the transformation in the national consciousness of the German people, for which Bismarck was also responsible. Dr. Eyck has analyzed not only the personality but also the accomplishments of a statesman whose influence on Europe in the latter half of the nineteenth century was more far-reaching than that of any other man in his time. This edition contains minor corrections and a new foreword by the author's son Frank Eyck, also a nineteenth-century historian, evaluating some of the important publications in the field since the book appeared and illuminating his father's attitude to Bismarck.


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For most people Bismarck is the man of "blood and iron"; he coined the phrase himself and he lived up to it. But he was much more; he had an itellectual ascendancy over all the politicians of his day, and his superiority was acknowledged not only by his own people, but by all European statesmen. The unification of Germany, the defeat of Austria, the fall of the Second Empir For most people Bismarck is the man of "blood and iron"; he coined the phrase himself and he lived up to it. But he was much more; he had an itellectual ascendancy over all the politicians of his day, and his superiority was acknowledged not only by his own people, but by all European statesmen. The unification of Germany, the defeat of Austria, the fall of the Second Empire, the defeat of France, the alliance of the German Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, the dismemberment of Denmark—these are his most obvious achievements; no less important was the transformation in the national consciousness of the German people, for which Bismarck was also responsible. Dr. Eyck has analyzed not only the personality but also the accomplishments of a statesman whose influence on Europe in the latter half of the nineteenth century was more far-reaching than that of any other man in his time. This edition contains minor corrections and a new foreword by the author's son Frank Eyck, also a nineteenth-century historian, evaluating some of the important publications in the field since the book appeared and illuminating his father's attitude to Bismarck.

30 review for Bismarck and the German Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gleb Posobin

    It was hard to read for a history noob like me (though more accessible than the Pflanze's version that I have tried reading before) so one reading was certainly not enough. I don't have much background to easily remember the described events, and it was hard when reading to figure out what was more important and what was less so and to keep the overall picture in mind. But now I am convinced that Otto von Bismarck is fascinating, and for a more knowledgeable reader this book is probably great (b It was hard to read for a history noob like me (though more accessible than the Pflanze's version that I have tried reading before) so one reading was certainly not enough. I don't have much background to easily remember the described events, and it was hard when reading to figure out what was more important and what was less so and to keep the overall picture in mind. But now I am convinced that Otto von Bismarck is fascinating, and for a more knowledgeable reader this book is probably great (but don't know how well it holds up after 50 years since the second edition was published). Will either reread or read another biography of Bismarck at some point this year.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book is a post war take on Bismarck and the formation of the German state. Eyck is critical of Bismarck throughout, he paints him as passionate yet disingenuous, a man solely after his own ends. Bismarck ends up a man both super qualified and unique, and yet seemingly inhuman in ability to create achievement. It all seems that what happened in the First and Second World Wars were set in motion by Bismarck himself. Post war criticisms of Germany continue to seep into Eyck’s take on the state This book is a post war take on Bismarck and the formation of the German state. Eyck is critical of Bismarck throughout, he paints him as passionate yet disingenuous, a man solely after his own ends. Bismarck ends up a man both super qualified and unique, and yet seemingly inhuman in ability to create achievement. It all seems that what happened in the First and Second World Wars were set in motion by Bismarck himself. Post war criticisms of Germany continue to seep into Eyck’s take on the state of Germany. Eyck tries to support the idea that the nation of German was one that didn’t want to be unified. After unification he makes it look like that Germany was politically in his view out of step with how acceptable nations should act. The impression I picked up was that nations should be more internationally concerned then nationally concerned. Bismarck and Germany make the error of putting the German people and nation first, Eyck clearly believes this position. If you are looking for a historical account on the formation of the German state and Bismarck this will work fine to get you started. It’s not a “fun read” but you will learn and grasp what some saw Bismarck was. It definitely has a bias against nationalism, but that is expected in a book written by a German after the Second World War.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edwile Mbameg

    An interesting read for 3 reasons; 1. Bismarck was a skillful politician though a reactionary one. He understood the game of alliances which characterized European Diplomacy for many centuries contributing to 2 great wars. Power politics and strenuous alliances at the end -with other factors- led Europe and the World into ruins. The role of the German Empire -and its creator; Bismarck- can be appreciated while reading Erich Eyck. Bismarck was "Severely Conservative" to borrow from Gov. Mitt Romne An interesting read for 3 reasons; 1. Bismarck was a skillful politician though a reactionary one. He understood the game of alliances which characterized European Diplomacy for many centuries contributing to 2 great wars. Power politics and strenuous alliances at the end -with other factors- led Europe and the World into ruins. The role of the German Empire -and its creator; Bismarck- can be appreciated while reading Erich Eyck. Bismarck was "Severely Conservative" to borrow from Gov. Mitt Romney. He failed -or refused- to see that as Germany was industrializing, the Conservative Power structure -At the head the Emperor surrounded by land owners; Junkers; Bismarck was a Junker- was becoming irrelevant and needed reform which would have allowed Progressive forces to participate in Government. Bismarck and his fellow Conservatives were determined to placate Progressive forces regardless of the consequences. After Bismarck's resignation the plane was left without a pilot. 2. Germany and the European Union. As the European Union is going through an economic and monetary crisis which threatens its very existence, all the eyes are on Germany for leadership. There's a form of Irony in this. 3. Question: Can Germany, the strongest economy on the Continent, lead Europe to a closer integration?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Bismarck was a brilliant and ruthless political tactician; his success at concentrating power at the top of the new German state proved catastrophic after he was forced to resign and cede that power to Wilhelm II: 'He left his work in the hands of a man who was quite unable to develop it or, indeed, to preserve it. That was Germany's misfortune. But it was Bismarck's fault that this man possessed power far too great for a mediocre mortal. And it was, too, Bismarck's fault that there was no parlia Bismarck was a brilliant and ruthless political tactician; his success at concentrating power at the top of the new German state proved catastrophic after he was forced to resign and cede that power to Wilhelm II: 'He left his work in the hands of a man who was quite unable to develop it or, indeed, to preserve it. That was Germany's misfortune. But it was Bismarck's fault that this man possessed power far too great for a mediocre mortal. And it was, too, Bismarck's fault that there was no parliament capable of bridling this extravagant ruler, and that there was far from enough independence of mind in the German people. 'Under Bismarck's leadership the German nation had become united, strong, and powerful. But the sense of freedom and individual independence, of justice and humanity, had been lamentably weakened by Realpolitik and Interessenpolitik - the politics of power and of material interest - and by the personal régime which the Iron Chancellor had imposed upon his countrymen. It is therefore no mere chance that his work did not last, and that the Prussian crown and Hohenzollern dynasty, which he had exalted to heights never before known, ceased to exist twenty years after his death.'

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Snyder

    Picked this up at a used book store in Vermont. Ever since I first travelled to Deutschland I have wondered about the 'crazy quilt' politics of that place. Here is a good book to begin the hunt. You might want to pick up a map - and alongside the faithful wikipedia - you can thread some concepts together for yourself. You will probably recognize the more nefarious aspects of Bismarck, even though Eyck is largely apologetic, in the machinations of our current pestilence of 'statesmen'. Bismarck a Picked this up at a used book store in Vermont. Ever since I first travelled to Deutschland I have wondered about the 'crazy quilt' politics of that place. Here is a good book to begin the hunt. You might want to pick up a map - and alongside the faithful wikipedia - you can thread some concepts together for yourself. You will probably recognize the more nefarious aspects of Bismarck, even though Eyck is largely apologetic, in the machinations of our current pestilence of 'statesmen'. Bismarck apparently built the better mousetrap, then caught his own country in the damn thing once he was 'fired' by Kaiser Bill 2. He was certainly a patriot, not sure about his scruples. I'm sure he would laugh to hear me bring it up. This book is interesting to read along side 'The Education of Henry Adams'. I'm trying to build an apprehension of western history - currently finishing Schiller's 'History of the Thirty Years War'. Cheers

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ernani

    Engaging and easy to read prose. The author knows his subject and presents a balanced though critical view of Bismarck. He gets into the details of the domestic political battles waged by Bismarck to preserve and expand his power. Those details (like the tariff discussion) can get very in the weeds of domestic policy but add essential elements to understand Bismarck's actions in foreign policy. This is a very good biography to start learning about Bismarck and the creation of the German nation. Engaging and easy to read prose. The author knows his subject and presents a balanced though critical view of Bismarck. He gets into the details of the domestic political battles waged by Bismarck to preserve and expand his power. Those details (like the tariff discussion) can get very in the weeds of domestic policy but add essential elements to understand Bismarck's actions in foreign policy. This is a very good biography to start learning about Bismarck and the creation of the German nation. It's especially good for those who care about internal politics, like the development and early functioning of the German federal legislature.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Cotterill

    If you have been a student of European Political History at some time in your life, then this book will capture the interest in mid to late 19th century European politics. This book shows Bismarck for what he probably was. A bully but a creator of a nation. An interesting idea is put forward in this book as to what might have happened had Germany and Great Britain signed a treaty of understanding in 1879, which Bismarck never followed through on. Unfortunately for the 20th century this idea staye If you have been a student of European Political History at some time in your life, then this book will capture the interest in mid to late 19th century European politics. This book shows Bismarck for what he probably was. A bully but a creator of a nation. An interesting idea is put forward in this book as to what might have happened had Germany and Great Britain signed a treaty of understanding in 1879, which Bismarck never followed through on. Unfortunately for the 20th century this idea stayed just that.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    This was a very informative and detailed biography about Bismarck, which I've come to admire. The thesis in itself is interesting: How did Bismarck's policies of "blood and iron" and "realpolitik" from the late 1800s translate into Nazi Germany of World War II. It really went into all the unethical things Bismarck did to achieve his goals. At times, the book was hard to keep with, mostly because there were so many members of the monarchy who played a part in that time of history, but overall, it This was a very informative and detailed biography about Bismarck, which I've come to admire. The thesis in itself is interesting: How did Bismarck's policies of "blood and iron" and "realpolitik" from the late 1800s translate into Nazi Germany of World War II. It really went into all the unethical things Bismarck did to achieve his goals. At times, the book was hard to keep with, mostly because there were so many members of the monarchy who played a part in that time of history, but overall, it's a very true piece of work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Zupancic

    It's chronological and very detailed; presented like "the story of Bismarck," which can make it slow reading at times. But, Eyck's detail is illuminating: the book presents an intimate portrait of Bismarck. Eyck certainly suggests that Otto was a force of evil in Germany, but his judgement is not overbearing. This is a great basis for a screen play of the inevitable mini-series or movie of the near future.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Slim but well documented and well reasoned analysis of Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck's career. The book's German author does a good job of balancing respect for the fierce intellect and skills of the man who invented realpolitik and dominated late 19th century foreign policy, while also highlighting his lack of moral depth and fundamental flaws. Made want to read much more about this era.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claire Baxter

    While interesting, this book was tough going. There was very little biographical information about Bismarck's life but a lot of in depth politics which for those without a reasonable knowledge of European politics and geography at that time makes for heavy reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Calzean

    A book that focuses on Bismarck's political manoeuvres that saw the formation of Germany. The author had a love/hate feel about Bismarck. Very thorough, readable and enjoyable.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Martin Klaver

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Ollenberger

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Grogan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anatole David

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Disneyq

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tassie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Bai

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jake Rose

  22. 5 out of 5

    Umar Tosheeb

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cormac

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  25. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

  26. 4 out of 5

    Butters

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Wilcox

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenna E.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daley Bridges

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