5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Some insights but marred by an awkward written style,
This review is from: The Last Kaiser: William the Impetuous (Paperback)
This is a book of uneven quality. It is strong and insightful on the Kaiser's upbringing and goes some way to explain his contradictory and complicated personality. Giles MacDonough offers a persuasive account of the Kaiser's relationship with his mother. Many accounts portray Vicky (and Fritz - the Kaiser's father) as victims: liberals struggling against the harsh Junkerdom of Bismarck. This account shows Vicky's insensitivity towards her adopted country and the considerable damage she inflicted on her eldest son. I also found the accounts of the Kaiser's court, and his relationships with his Ministers, penetrating.
But there are two drawbacks. There is insufficient attention to the politics of pre-1914 Germany. That is to say, we are told about the key events - the visit to Tangiers, the Moroccan and Panther incidents - but not enough about the political undercurrents. I wonder if the author assumes too much knowledge of these issues by his reader. For example, in the middle of a section about the Crown Prince's behaviour in 1913, we are suddenly referred to the Fischer thesis. I suspect many readers at this point will not know about Fischer, and the significance of his work about the origins of the war.
The second drawback is, I'm sorry to say, a clumsy written style. The author frequently gets the subject and object of his sentences confused. I sidelined in my copy a reference in the chapter on Bulow about the Kaiser's naval designs. I had to read one paragraph several times to work out who was supposed to be doing what! The book is full of these confusions of style and I found it extremely irritating.