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Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichröder, and the Building of the German…

– tekijä: Fritz Stern

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
258377,303 (3.85)2
Winner of the Lionel Trilling Award Nominated for the National Book Award "A major contribution to our understanding of some of the great themes of modern European history--the relations between Jews and Germans, between economics and politics, between banking and diplomacy." --James Joll, The New York Times Book Review "I cannot praise this book too highly. It is a work of original scholarship, both exact and profound. It restores a buried chapter of history and penetrates, with insight and understanding, one of the most disturbing historical problems of modern times." --Hugh J. Trevor-Roper, London Sunday Times "[An] extraordinary book, an invaluable contribution to our understanding of Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century." --Stanley Hoffman, Washington Post Book World "One of the most important historical works of the past few decades." --Golo Mann "In many ways this book resembles the great nineteenth-century novels." --The Economist… (lisätietoja)

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näyttää 3/3
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! ( )
1 ääni kukulaj | Jan 29, 2019 |
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. ( )
  BiblioLorenzoLodi | Mar 17, 2015 |
A Poignant Portrait of an Embattled Financier and His Times
The first major work expounding on Bismarck's pecuniary relationship with the prominent Prussian banker Gerson von Bleichroder, Gold and Iron is truly a seminal study about the rise of the German nation. It splendidly explores the creation of the Prusso-Germanic empire through the lens of Bismarck, its architect, and Bleichroder, his Jewish financier.

Bleichroder became useful to Bismarck in many ways. He was embroiled in affaires d'Etat as well as Bismarck's affaires de famille. He managed the Chancellor's personal portfolio, helped finance wars against Denmark and Austria, and served as an intermediary for the massive indemnity levied against the French in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War. Bleichroder's remarkable and long-running relationship with the Rothschilds made his services doubly worthwhile to both Bismarck and Germany. However, Stern makes the poignant observation that while Bleichroder's success won him access to the corridors of power everywhere, his very success prevented him from being truly free. He became a kind of Tantalus, always seeking out recognition and confirmation of his accomplishments without really attaining what he was reaching for: a position at parity, if not becoming primus inter pares, vis-a-vis his peers and contemporaries.

Ponderous the book may be, but readers who are deeply interested in the political economy of Europe and in the crucial role played by embattled financiers in the rise of empires will be exceedingly enlightened--and entertained--by this monumental tome.

(Posted in Amazon.com, January 12, 2004) ( )
1 ääni melvinsico | Oct 29, 2006 |
näyttää 3/3
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (6)

Winner of the Lionel Trilling Award Nominated for the National Book Award "A major contribution to our understanding of some of the great themes of modern European history--the relations between Jews and Germans, between economics and politics, between banking and diplomacy." --James Joll, The New York Times Book Review "I cannot praise this book too highly. It is a work of original scholarship, both exact and profound. It restores a buried chapter of history and penetrates, with insight and understanding, one of the most disturbing historical problems of modern times." --Hugh J. Trevor-Roper, London Sunday Times "[An] extraordinary book, an invaluable contribution to our understanding of Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century." --Stanley Hoffman, Washington Post Book World "One of the most important historical works of the past few decades." --Golo Mann "In many ways this book resembles the great nineteenth-century novels." --The Economist

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