Preface

This book presents a short account of Otto von Bismarck's life and policies against the background of nineteenth-century Germany is and based on the literature that has appeared since the Second World War. The aim of this study is to acquaint undergraduate and graduate students and the general reader with a summary of that literature.1

A generation ago a similar task would have been relatively easy. Then, historians were preoccupied with political history, particularly German nationalism, and with few exceptions, they considered Bismarck one of the greatest statesmen of all time. World War II changed their outlook and their emphasis. Today, though political history still provides the basis and general framework for any Bismarck biography, it is being complemented by economic, social, constitutional, and most recently, psychological history.2

As Lincoln and the Civil War dominated United States history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bismarck dominated German political thinking and historical writing from his death in 1898 to. the outbreak of the Second World War. As another historian has noted, the changes in the historical interpretations of Bismarck reflect the heights and depths of German historical scholarship in this period.3 It was only after Germany's defeat in the Second World War that the personality and policies of Bismarck and the events leading toward German unification ceased to be a political issue for German historians. This change in emphasis led to the post-World War II reappraisal and rewriting of modern German history.4

The historiographical Notes and Bibliographical Essay in this volume will provide the serious student of history with a guide to the intricacies of historical scholarship pertaining to Bismarck and his

-vii-

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Bismarck and His Times
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Bismarck's Youth 1
  • 2 - Bismarck And The Revolution Of 1848 11
  • 3 - Frankfurt St. Petersburg Paris 1851-1862 23
  • 4 - Bismarck's Appointment And The Constitutional Conflict In Prussia 34
  • 5 - Bismarck's Three Wars 45
  • 6 - The New Reich 77
  • 7 - Bismarck's Foreign Policy 104
  • 8 - Bismarck's Dismissal 124
  • 9 - Bismarck Reassessed 130
  • Notes 135
  • Bibliographical Essay 165
  • Index 175
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