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Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Life in Power

Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Life in Power [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Clark
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Clark's fresh and enlightening history ... brings the Kaiser's life into critical and illuminating review' German History

Product Description

King of Prussia, German Emperor, war leader and defeated exile, Kaiser Wilhelm II was one of the most important - and most controversial - figures in the history of twentieth-century Europe. But how much power did he really have?

The acclaimed historian Christopher Clark follows Kaiser Wilhelm's political career from his youth at the Hohenzollern court through the turbulent decades of the Wilhelmine era into global war and the collapse of Germany in 1918, to his last days. He asks: what was his true role in the events that led to the outbreak of the First World War? What was the nature and extent of his control? What were his political goals and his success in achieving them? How did he project authority and exercise influence? How did the people view him?

Through original research, Clark presents a fresh new interpretation of this contentious figure, focusing on how his forty-year reign from 1888 to 1918 affected Germany, and the rest of Europe, for years to come.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8463 KB
  • Print Length: 445 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Jun 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI95MC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #47,052 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, very good. 10 Dec 2009
This is not a new book; it is a reissue of the 'Profiles in Power' book published a decade ago. Like most books in PIP series, this is NOT a biography. Rather, it is a chronological study of the Kaiser's political career and the ways in which he exercised political power. The book thus becomes quite dry in places and by the end of it you are still left feeling that the 'personal' Kaiser is an enigma. But the 'political' Kaiser is completely revealed, and thus the author fulfills his objective. An interesting read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The complex Kaiser decoded 13 Nov 2011
By Andy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read Christopher Clark's Iron Kingdom I did not hesitate in reading Kaiser Wilhelm II, Life in Power. I was not disspointed.

History has been brutal to Kaiser Wilhelm portraying him as a warmongering and power hungry figure, vain and foolish causing the destruction of the Hohenzollern Empire his forefathers worked so tirelessly to create.

Clark really uncovers the layers upon layers of the complex personality that is Wilhelm the Second. The book is a breathtaking study in the psyche of leader taking us through his childhood and early years as well as his years in power. His disliking of his father, envy of Bismarck and increasing lack of any authority as the First World War progresses are amongst the intriguing facts that Clark brings to front.

Clark really does a fine job decoding Wilhelm the tragic figure that lost a crown and an empire and paved the way for the horrors that were to descend upon Germany in the years to come, one which he watched in horror from his exile in Holland.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was he Mad? 22 Aug 2011
There has never been any doubt in England that Germany was responsible for the two World Wars of the twentieth century; but, whereas Hitler has been a relatively uncontroversial war criminal, the same cannot be said of Kaiser Wilhelm II. After all, he was very closely related to the British royal family, and prior to 1914 the Germans were thought of as our cousins, far more closely related than the French. The Entente Cordiale was a relatively recent phenomenon, and people simply could not understand how the First World War had come about.

My grandmother used to refer to the period before that War as the period 'before the world went mad'; and, because the Kaiser was clearly to blame for the mass slaughter which followed, there was a movement in England which was in favour of hanging him. He was clearly a very bad man. Was he also mad? Christopher Clark brings the cool mind of the professional historian to these problems, and he provides some very convincing answers, firmly based on a vast German literature which is not readily accessible by most English readers.

The view he presents of the Kaiser will surprise many. He was neither mad, nor particularly bad. He was not an absolute ruler, indeed he had no very clearly defined role within the Imperial Constitution (though he liked to talk big). He had difficult relationships with his Chancellors, starting with the formidable Bismarck. He did not by any means always get his own way. He was not particularly militaristic, though he was always very keen on the Navy (root cause of the growing and fatal misunderstanding between Germany and Britain). On some issues, he was a liberal; and he favoured a policy to improve the schools.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and incisive. 14 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This superb new edition of Christopher Clark's magisterial study of the Kaiser contains some new material and photographs.

Many questions hang over Wilhelm II -- just how much power and influence did he wield in Germany? To what degree did he shape the development of Germany during the three decades of his rule? To what extent was the Great War the result of his planning and leadership? Christopher Clark sets out to answer these questions in an incisive, beautifully-written synthesis of current scholarship.

Prof. Clark's interest is primarily in the political sphere; but despite his claim that this "makes no pretense at the comprehensiveness of a biography," it is also a revealing study of Wilhelm's family, character and personal foibles. I found it fascinating.

Highly recommended to serious students of the period.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Dr Clark offers a fascinating and insightful look at the last German Kaiser. This book is well researched and with the latest available source material at his disposal this book is a must read for any lovers of German history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kaiser Wilhem II - a Life in Power 17 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting book, easy to read and absorb the information contained therein. A really good indepth view f the Kaiser, his life, his court and the play he played in World War I. The book also follows him following abdication and touches briefly on his feelings regarding Hitler.
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