Blood and Iron
‘The best biography of the Second Reich in years … It will undoubtedly become the essential account of this vitally important part of European history’ Andrew Roberts
Before 1871, Germany was not a nation but an idea. Its founder, Otto von Bismarck, had a formidable task at hand. How would he bring thirty-nine individual states under the yoke of a single Kaiser, convincing proud Prussians, Bavarians and Rhinelanders to become Germans? Once united, could the young European nation wield enough power to rival the empires of Britain and France – all without destroying itself in the process? In a unique study of five decades that changed the course of modern history, Katja Hoyer tells the story of the German Empire from its violent beginnings to its calamitous defeat in the First World War. It is a dramatic tale of national self-discovery, social upheaval and realpolitik that ended, as it started, in blood and iron.
The German Empire born in 1871 has all too often been seen as the troubled precursor of the terrible Nazi successor. Katja Hoyer helps us to see that the empire held out other possibilities which only the catastrophe of the Great War undermined. Brief and accessible, this should become a standard text for those who want to understand the origins of Germany today -- Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War An elegant new book on the period -- Oliver Moody * The Times * An important and complex subject told with clarity and verve -- Catrine Clay, author of The Good Germans Anyone, student or general "history buff", in search of a readable but authoritative guide to how modern Germany came into being need look no further than Katja Hoyer's Blood and Iron. The familiar political and military battlefields are all compellingly described. Bismarck and Co. have their due. However, the author also explores many fascinating and less well-known aspects of German culture and public life during that period - equally important factors in the epic story of how this vibrant, often turbulent, society on the move propelled itself in just a few decades from an underpowered feudal patchwork of semi-connected states to become the cultural, economic and military titan that was Germany in 1914. Hoyer's account of Germany between the Napoleonic Era and the Great War stands as an admirable achievement of both narrative and analytical history. Highly recommended -- Frederick Taylor, author of 1939: A People's History Engaging and enlightening in equal measure, Blood and Iron is a brilliant synthesis of a complex history which will be welcomed by students and general readers alike -- Roger Moorhouse, author of First to Fight: The Polish War 1939 We ought all to know more about the rise of the Second German Reich, founded with blood and iron in Otto von Bismarck's words, because the great catastrophes of the 20th century flow from it. In entertaining prose, Katja Hoyer makes that history highly accessible, and paints lively portraits of the political genius Bismarck and the naive egotist Kaiser Wilhelm II -- Michael Portillo, author of Portillo's Hidden History of Britain Concise and incisive, this sparkling examination of the rise and fall of the Second Reich is an excellent introduction to a crucial period of German history -- Professor Tim Blanning, author of Frederick the Great Hoyer brings this dense period of German history to life with a lightness of touch that complements her impressive scholarship. A deeply satisfying read, highly recommended -- Julia Boyd, author of Travellers in the Third Reich Katja Hoyer has written an excellent book on the rise and fall of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918 that is packed with detail and illuminating insights. She shows very effectively the changes in German foreign policy after Bismarck's fall from power, and the more provocative stance of Kaiser Wilhelm's world policy that contributed to the outbreak of the First World War, and brought out Germany's expansionist aims during the conflict. Overall, this book fills a gap in our understanding of the Second Reich, and it helps us to understand more clearly the reasons for its failure -- Professor Frank McDonough, author of The Hitler Years Brisk, thoughtful and thoroughly engaging -- Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times Splendidly lucid and readable: Katja Hoyer has managed to compress fifty years of great complexity into a compelling and comprehensible narrative - and it is a story that every European needs to know and to understand -- Dr Neil MacGregor, author of Germany: Memories of a Nation Katja Hoyer's well-researched and well-written book is the best biography of the Second Reich in years. She cogently argues that what started in Versailles' Hall of Mirrors need not have ended in the disaster of the Great War, and rightly rescues Bismarck from the ignominy of being a forerunner of Hitler. It will undoubtedly become the essential account of this vitally important part of European history -- Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
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