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Fritz Stern (1926–2016)

Teoksen The Varieties of History: From Voltaire to the Present tekijä

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Fritz Stern was born in the former German province of Silesia (now in Poland) on February 2, 1926 to a prominent family that had converted from Judaism to Christianity. The Sterns felt increasingly threatened by Hitler's reign and left for New York in 1938. He received an undergraduate and master's näytä lisää degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught at Columbia University for more than 40 years, specializing in European history, before retiring in 1997. He wrote several books during his lifetime including The Politics of Cultural Despair, The Failure of Illiberalism, and Five Germanys I Have Known. He occasionally advised government officials including British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on German reunification in the early 1990s and held government positions like being appointed a senior aide to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, in 1993. He died May 18, 2016 at the age of 90. (Bowker Author Biography) näytä vähemmän

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This book is about Gerson Bleichroeder, a top banker in Berlin in the period roughly 1865-1890, and especially his relationship with Bismarck. Stern rummaged about in several attics and read through piles of letters to discover all sorts of details that had been neglected for decades. He points out that Bleichroeder had been almost totally neglected by historians, and that Bismarck tended to be treated as one kind of cartoon character or another, rather than fleshed out with the complex nuances that actually his primary mode.

The main themes of the book are how finance and politics became intertwined in those years, and very much through the persons of Bleichroeder and Bismarck; and the fall and re-arising of anti-Semitism during those years, and again how these two characters played such important roles in that process too. And of course these themes are coupled. The new anti-Semitism saw Jews as powerful; Bleichroeder was proof.

Stern transposes the literary matrix: the letters each belong to a moment in time, and many, I expect, pulled in strands from many facets of the situation of that moment. Stern largely dedicates a chapter to each facet, revisiting the same stretch of time in each chapter while isolating one strand or another. Probably the key chapter for the anti-Semitism chapter is the one on Rumania. In 1978 anti-Semitism was in sufficient retreat that a treaty could be forced on Rumania that required them to emancipate their Jews. But within a few years, Rumania had shirked this duty and was never held accountable.

Sad to say, this book seems more relevant today than when it was published. Various economic difficulties plagued the working class in the 1870s and 1880s; the old aristocracy could unite with the craftsmen and shopkeepers against the liberals and capitalists, under the banner of anti-Semitism. Of course Stern had no need to dwell on the parallels with the 1930s. I imagine he would have been surprised to see those passions reignited in the 2016 time frame.

I am not so familiar with Bismarck's chancellorship and all the events during those years. This book doesn't really tell the big story. Occasionally Stern will take a few paragraphs to sketch some piece of it, but mostly we just see the grand march from the point of view of a few players. Indeed, Stern reminds us several times that in the middle of events, the players don't have that hindsight that we have many decades later. Personally I like to learn about the big things from the perspective of the small things. Other readers may get frustrated. It's not a book for everyone! But the rich detail here is really a treasure if you don't mind getting lost in the details!
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kukulaj | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 29, 2019 |
The so-called "German question" haunts the modern world but here the author describes a more personal Germany that he has known. He is very articulate and has thought about his identity; politically, he is a 1960s liberal in a leading academic.
 
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gmicksmith | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 25, 2016 |
Bismarck, l'artefice della potenza del II Reich, l'aristocratico di antica nobiltà che avviò un ambizioso progetto di modernizzazione del Paese: figura monumentale e controversa, in lui si è soliti riassumere le colpe e i meriti della
Germania moderna.
Ma di quali strumenti, di quali leve si servì per costruire il proprio potere personale e la potenza del nuovo impero tedesco? Del denaro, soprattutto; della grande quantità di denaro che i nuovi ricchi, l'emergente finanza ebraica,
gli fornivano in cambio di protezione e favori. Tra questi Bleichroder, il Rothschild tedesco, il più influente consigliere e finanziere di Bismarck; colui che in virtù dei propri servizi personali e professionali si costruì non solo
un'immensa fortuna, ma un potere politico occulto e determinante; colui al quale ricorre Bismarck per finanziare due guerre contro l'ostilità del Parlamento.
… (lisätietoja)
 
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BiblioLorenzoLodi | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 17, 2015 |
Everyone should know about the lives of these two men. Truly heroic in the face of death. Perhaps they and not Mother Teresa should have been sainted by the Catholic church.
 
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swift1 | Jul 27, 2014 |

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J. B. Bury Contributor
Jules Michelet Contributor
Charles A. Beard Contributor
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Michel Charlot Translator
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Teokset
15
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1,497
Suosituimmuussija
#17,161
Arvio (tähdet)
3.9
Kirja-arvosteluja
12
ISBN:t
72
Kielet
7
Kuinka monen suosikki
1

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