IT has been my desire to make this survey of the modern political history of Germany something more than a compendium of facts or a work of reference, and the public which I have had in mind in writing it is less the limited circle of scholars and students than those "general readers," the number of whom, one may believe, is steadily increasing, who wish to form their opinions on foreign politics independently, intelligently, and therefore on adequate information.
Inasmuch as my chief concern is with the German Empire as established in 1867-1871, only so much attention has been given to the earlier phases of the national unity movement as seemed needful in order to make the later developments intelligible. Hence in dealing with the first half of last century I have concentrated attention upon capital events and tendencies, and in referring to the actors in these have refrained from dragging out of obscurity and oblivion personalities and reputations which, tried by the test of time, have proved to have had significance only for their own day, or even for their own narrow political circles.
Rightly or wrongly, I have not written this History impersonally, nor have I tried so to write it. Had I adhered more faithfully to conventional forms, the work of writing it would have lost half its interest for me, and it may be that the result for the reader would have been less helpful. I shall be satisfied if it should be held that I have succeeded in preserving the mean between a colourless formalism and excessive subjectivity. It has also seemed to me natural to give special prominence to points of contact with my own country, yet without writing from the British standpoint, and this inclination I have not unduly restrained.
In discharging my task, an old reflection has repeatedly returned to me: How comes it that in normal conditions German politics make so slight an appeal to the outside world? Why does German political life at any time so little interest observers in this country in particular? The reason lies, I think,