Academic journal article Military Review

Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life

Academic journal article Military Review

Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life

Article excerpt

KAISER WILHELM II: A Concise Life

John C.G. Rohl, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2014, 261 pages

In August 1914, Europe went to war. This war was not like any previous war--it would completely destroy the old order and set the stage for an even greater conflict that would change the world forever. With the arrival of the one hundredth anniversary of World War I, many are looking back on this great event and trying to comprehend its meaning, its impact, and especially what caused it to happen. How could the "civilized" nations of Europe commit the equivalent of suicide? One key factor was the leaders involved, and no leader was more important in the beginning of the war than Kaiser Wilhelm II, the leader of Imperial Germany. In August 1914, no nation was as powerful as Germany or played a more critical role in the events of that time. To understand the origins of the war and the role Germany played requires an understanding of the kaiser.

Kaiser Wilhelm II by John C.G. Rohl provides just such an understanding of the title character. The author begins with the birth of the young prince who, at the time of his birth, suffered damage to his left arm--leaving him physically and psychologically scarred. The authors delves into the impacts of the prince's education and the attempts to repair his damaged arm, as well as his mother's perceived British liberalism.

Elevated to the kaiser of Imperial Germany at a young age, Wilhelm II proved to be independent and was determined to rule as a king of old--by divine right. …

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