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Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life Paperback – 21 Aug 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (21 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107420776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107420779
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'This ranks as one of the greatest political biographies of our time. Superb, important, magisterial - sometimes even hilarious and as compellingly fascinating as it is academically definitive.' Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2004)

'A brief summary of Rohl's mighty three volume biography.' Sunday Times

'In this powerful portrait Rohl reveals the monstrosity of the man behind the posturing monarch.' The Times

'Rohl's scholarship and authority still shine through the pacey narrative. And what a devastating portrait it is.' The Economist

'The sharp, distinctly unflattering portrait of the Kaiser which emerges from this brilliant short book is the more convincing because of the scrupulous fairness with which John Rohl has treated his unappealing subject and the extraordinary circumstances that shaped him.' Lord Lexden, House

Book Description

This is a concise edition of John Röhl's prize-winning three-volume biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. It sheds new light on the Kaiser's troubled youth, his involvement in social and political scandals, and his role in foreign policy decisions that led to the outbreak of the First World War.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Nov 2014
Format: Paperback
German historian John CG Rohl has written "Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life". When I ordered it, I didn't know just how "concise" the book was, but after reading it, I realised that it was exactly what I was looking for. The book is relatively brief, but Rohl does an excellent job in distilling Wilhelm's life to manageable size without leaving much out.

Wilhelm II was a problem-child who grew into a problem-adult. He was born with a withered arm - the result of a difficult birth - and suffered emotionally and physically. His mother - the eldest child of Queen Victoria - was cold to him and Wilhelm intensely disliked her his whole life. He was given a good education but concentrated on military issues. He considered himself a "warrior", despite his physical handicaps. Wilhelm came to power in his late 20's when his father, Frederick, died soon after assuming the throne on his father's death. He was an undisciplined ruler; often asking and then disregarding advise from people who knew far more than he did about the military and economics and politics.

Most of the Rohl's book centers on the pre-WW1 and war years. Wilhelm had been preparing for war against Russia, France, and England since the late 1800's. The Balkans - that "tinderbox" - had been waiting to explode long before the Austrian heir Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in June, 1914. Building up his army and navy, as well as his delusions of what he wanted after defeating England and France and Russia, Wilhelm was outplayed in the Great War. He abdicated and went into exile in the Netherlands in 1918. He lived until 1941 and was a great proponent of Hitler and his Nazis.

John Rohl's shortish book gives you a good look at Wilhelm. But if you'd like a longer book, order his three-set volume of Wilhelm's life. That set of books has 3884(!) pages and is available on Amazon/UK. I think this "concise" version might be more "doable".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Oakes on 24 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life Paperback – 21 Aug 2014
by John C. G. Röhl
This was an easy and captivating read – the translation by Sheila De Bellaihue worked a treat although I have no expertise whatsoever in German to judge the success of the translation but the resulting prose and style kept my attention and was riveting. This summary encourages me to read the fuller works. This Concise Life showed how Kaiser Wilhelm’s character and personality was formed and convinced me that he was the major cause of the 1st World War – his perverse narcissism is so patently clear which was considerably aggravated by his position as an absolute Monarch and a mother who neglected him…a human tragedy with devastating consequences. This work enhances the process of learning from history for the future, if we are prepared to learn and act from this example of a very damaged man.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An intense distillation of Roel's three major biographical volumes of Kaiser Wilhelm II. It is particularly notable fo his demolition of Christopher Clarke's thesis about German culpability for the origins of the Great War in "The Sleepwalkers".
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By Teemacs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Dec 2014
Format: Paperback
Professors Röhl and Clark have a fundamental disagreement. It's interesting and unusual that Prof. Röhl mentions both Prof. Clark and his acclaimed book "The Sleepwalkers", and says on occasion "he got this bit wrong". Clark regards the start of the First World War as the world's biggest traffic accident, in which everyone was to blame. On the other hand, Röhl, while not completely blaming Wilhelm II for the war, attributes a sizeable proportion of that blame to him, his attitudes, the positions he took and the atmosphere he engendered.

This slender book, a condensed version of Prof. Röhl's definitive three-volume biography of Wilhelm II, makes it clear that Röhl really doesn't like Wilhem II. This is not surprising; Wilhelm II comes across as a most unpleasant individual. It's clear that he was damaged goods, starting with the difficult breech birth, which left him with a crippled arm and possibly brain damage (after some of his more outrageous pronouncements (and there were many), many of his contemporaries, including his own ministers, actually wondered whether he was several fries short of a Happy Meal). The combination of a mother who was repelled by his crippled state (and who couldn't hide it), the treatments bordering on torture to try to correct his deficiencies, the burgeoning nationalistic pride of the unified Germany led by Prussia and his love-hate relationships with his English relatives, especially uncle Bertie (Edward VII), finished the job.

Röhl basically saddles Wilhelm squarely with much of the blame for the First World War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jonathan story on 29 Sep 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent short biographer, based on the three volume opus. Röhl places Willhelm centre stage, only shoved aside by his military men at the outbreak of war in August 1914. The author takes a very different approach to Clarke in The Sleepwalkers, and argues that Wilhlem was indeed the main responsible for the outbreak of war.
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