Much has been written about Otto von Bismarck over the years, not just in Germany. However, unlike many run-of-the-mill biographies of Bismarck, this work and the two companion volumes - the author's Bismarck trilogy - are indispensable for the serious student of German history in general and of the Bismarckian age in particular. The three volumes ( the other two being "Bismarck and the Development of Germany, Volume II: The Period of Consolidation, 1871-1880" and "Bismarck and the Development of Germany, Volume III: The Period of Fortification, 1880-1898" ) cover European history between 1815 and 1898, a monumental venture for any historian and Otto Pflanze (1918 - 2007), who was an eminent American historian, handles the task like a skilled surgeon performing an intricate operation. The books were written several decades ago but his analysis of Bismarckian policies and their impact on German, European and world affairs in the twentieth century still holds true today.
In 1888, Bismarck said: "Nothing in the world is permanent, neither peace treaties nor laws. They come and go; tempora mutantur est nos mutamur in illis ... But we do our duty in the present." In this acclaimed scholarly work, Pflanze shows us how Bismarck, for his part, did this. He was a complex character, often misunderstood, and misinterpreted by many of his contemporaries and successors, so it is not surprising that historians, too, do not always agree about his motives in pursuing his policies.
I think Pflanze's work on Bismarck is in a class of its own.
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