Many people still consider Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898)—the ‘Iron Chancellor’ who founded the German Empire in 1871—Germany's foremost statesman. Johannes Willms draws a different picture, showing Bismarck as a dyed-in-the-wool opportunist, a cunning, power-hungry politician and gambler who hedged his bets by devising a system of conflicting allegiances and coalitions. Bismarck created a unified German Reich in which pre-existing tensions remained unaddressed. In Willms’ view, he bears a great deal of responsibility for the catastrophic circumstances that led to the First World War and the ensuing Nazi dictatorship. His critical biography is a stimulating analysis of the Bismarck myth; well-founded, incisive—yet invariably respectful of the Iron Chancellor’s intellectual capacity.
• Bismarck's 200th birthday will be remembered on April 1st , 2015