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on 30 March 2014
I've been looking a long time for a book that covered the Kaiser's entire life and this definitely hits the spot for me.

Most of the books I've seen previously focused mainly on the build up to WW1, but I was keen to understand the Kaiser's relationship with Queen Victoria and his cousins in the UK and Russia. This book goes into good levels of detail and gives an insight to a surprisingly complicated character.

Two observations I have made are . . . .
1) The period from the Kaiser's exile to his death are fairly glossed over. I assumed this is because he'd already rescinded his power and had little influence/interest in the world, but I would still liked to have known more about that period.
2) The author believes the Kaiser was even more of an anglophile than some of the other authors I have read. It's now impossible to know the Kaiser's real (and frequently contradictory) views but Alan Palmer has clearly researched his subject at great depth.
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on 10 October 2015
I found this book interesting and written accessibly.
Born with severe disabilities into a hierarchical age and a very militaristic society he did the best he could. The British loved him before the First World War and demonised during the Great War - it turns out he was an average man in an extraordinary position as ruler of the German empire - related to all the other average men who were kings and emperors at the time, all of them driven by events, "honour" and politicians. He had a role to fulfil and an image to present to his people as well as the rest of the world. He wanted the best for his people, the German people, as he understood it - from his rather, often, isolated position.
I ended up understanding him and the German side of the war better - and actually liking this man, especially during the last years of his life when he had been exiled ...
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on 23 August 2016
The Kaiser was responsible with others for the dreadful First World War.He was an incompetent who found himself King of Germany at a critical time
in Europe's history.He was a complex character who interfered constantly in the affairs of his ministers which eventually led to the 4 years of the
bloodiest war.It is well researched and written and of interest not only to students of the period but to anyone who is interested in the period and wants a good read.He was Queen Victoria's grandson and she died in his arms and he was very well thought of in UK for awhile until he showed
he was very jealous of us and all hell broke loose.A fairly long book for not much money.
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on 23 January 2014
First published in 1978, this scholarly work by Alan Palmer tells the story of a complicated and tormented man, who was dubbed 'the most brilliant failure in history' by his uncle, Edward VII.
Palmer makes use of a wealth of records, memoirs, letters and diaries to trace the key moments in William's life. He was born with hearing and balance problems and a withered arm, handicaps that had to be overcome if he were to present himself to his people as their 'warlord'.
The old Chancellor Bismarck feared that this 'constitutional' monarch had a mind to rule as well as reign and William's readiness to 'muscle in' on government was a constant source of tension and crisis.
The Kaiser maintained a sentimental attachment to the British Empire and was delighted by the flag-waving adulation of London's crowds. Year after year, he would return to Cowes to race his yacht - always fiercely competitive and often disastrously undiplomatic.
This restless man became known as the Reise Kaiser - the Emperor on the Move. Perhaps because he never had a great deal of faith in his leading ministers, he constantly had to check things for himself.
Palmer reminds us that History has not dealt kindly with William. Shaped by the strident militarism of the Prussian officer class,he has been seen as a callous war-monger. He has been blamed for the collapse of his empire, which was at the height of its wealth and prestige when he succeeded as third emperor of the Second Reich. Palmer's biography gives us a balanced view of the man and the emperor. In his instructions for his funeral, William requested that swastika emblems should not be on display. Hitler's wreath carried the emblem that the Kaiser had always despised.
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on 20 May 2014
I'm reading several books about WW1 in this 100th anniversary year. I enjoyed this book. It gives a good all round view of the Kaiser and shows what made the Kaiser what he was. It clearly shows how much power the Kaiser thought he had and how much power he really had. Worth reading.
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on 25 August 2016
Excellent read and gives fascinating look at how the Kaiser was seen both in Germany and in the UK. In some parts I actually felt sorry for the man, not so much bad as miss-guided and plagued with mental insecurities
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on 30 July 2016
Not the easiest read, but worth persevering. I guess trying to depict real events in an engaging way can be a tough challenge, but Alan Palmer does justice both to the history and to the story. I found reading it a second time was worthwhile, too;not just a necessity to make sense of things I hadn't grasped first time round, but to 'enjoy' it more.
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on 16 May 2014
Having previously read biographies of Wilhelm II it has been rewarding to see a fresh view of the man. This book, like others, tells the story of the last Kaiser of the German Empire but out lines Wilhelm's mental state. It seems that he did not only suffer severe infirmities at birth but continued, through out his life, with depression and, at times a loss of confidence despite putting a strong face to the world in general.
The books deals in some depth on Wilhelm's relations with his chancellors, ministers and generals. It would seem that deep down Wilhelm felt, and probably longed to be, a soldier king like his grandfather and his ancestor Frederick the Great.
I believe that this book is an essential for a student of the Second Reich.
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on 22 February 2014
I new very little about Wilhelm II other than he was the Emperor of Germany during the First World War, built up his navy to challenge Great Britain prior to war and had a withered left arm. The book shows a weak man with pretensions surrounded by strong advisor's, not all good.

This is a full story about his life and the politics of Germany leading up to the First World War. For those who think they know the reasons why it started, this book could throw a few spanners in the work, as it provides a different perspective. Who said those who win the war write the history.

Also explains what happens to him after abdication and life in the Netherlands and his stance with the Nazi's.

If you're interested in what happened during the lead up the WW1 then try this book.
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on 3 August 2016
Clear account of not only the events of the day, but also of the personalities of the main actors involved.
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