The Iron Chancellor
An accessible biography of Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s first chancellor.
Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) has gone down in history as the Iron Chancellor, a reactionary and militarist whose 1871 unification of Germany put Europe on a path of disaster leading up to World War I. But, as this new edition of his accessible biography shows, the real Bismarck was a far more complex character.
A leading historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century history, Volker Ullrich demonstrates that Bismarck—the “Founder of the Reich”—was, in fact, an opponent of liberal German nationalism. After the wars of 1866 and 1870, Bismarck spent the rest of his career working to preserve peace in Europe and to protect the empire he had created. Despite his reputation as an enemy of socialism, he introduced comprehensive health and unemployment insurance for German workers, and he was concerned with maintaining stability and harmony far beyond Germany’s newly unified borders. Comprehensive and balanced, Bismarck shows us the value of looking anew at this monumental figure’s role in European history.