Volker Ullrich / Translated by Timothy Beech / Foreword by Prince Ferdinand von Bismarck

‘A very good summary life of Bismarck’
Oliver Kamm, author of Mending the Mind

‘Volker Ullrich’s eminently readable biography of Otto von Bismarck is just delightful. Packed with quotes and fascinating anecdotes, it paints a vivid and balanced picture of the Iron Chancellor, bringing this complex historical figure to life. Ullrich’s concise analysis loses none of its edge in the refreshing brevity. His book is a brilliant introduction into the life and times of Germany’s first chancellor.’
Katja Hoyer, author of Blood and Iron

‘A brilliant, insightful and elegantly written biography of the most influential German of the 19th Century.’
Roger Moorhouse, author of Poland 1939


Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) has gone down in history as a reactionary and militarist whose 1871 unification of Germany set Europe down the path of disaster to the First World War. But, as this accessible biography shows, the real Bismarck was far more complicated. Volker Ullrich demonstrates that the ‘Founder of the Reich’ actually opposed liberal German nationalism.

After the wars of 1866 and 1870, Bismarck spent the rest of his career working to preserve peace in Europe and 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 far from being ‘man of iron and blood’, this complex statesman 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 in European history.

VOLKER ULLRICH is a German historian, journalist, and author whose previous books include biographies of Napoleon and Hitler and a major study of Imperial Germany. From 1990 to 2009, Ullrich was the political books editor of Die Zeit.

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