Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

InBismarck: The Man and the Statesman, A. J. P. Taylor has created a powerful biography of one of the most powerful politicians of modern times. In the process, the author also presents an excellent historical record of the rise of modern Germany and the role of Germany in European affairs during the last half of the nineteenth century. By quoting abundantly from the private papers of Otto von Bismarck, Taylor makes much of the book autobiographical.

Taylor reveals the influence of other powerful leaders, such as Oliver Cromwell in seventeenth century England, in shaping the political style and methodology of Bismarck. The author includes several paintings and photographs of Bismarck, all of which reveal his dominant personality, and portraits of other leaders who had a significant influence on Bismarck’s life. These illustrations are carefully chosen and placed at intervals in the text in order to support the narrative and to hold the interest of young adult readers.

Taylor uses a map of Germany as it existed from 1848 to 1871 to illustrate the difficulty of Bismarck’s task of unifying Germany under Prussian leadership. The map reveals the diversity of the German states prior to 1871. Taylor describes the step-by-step strategy, including some unplanned and opportunistic steps, in reaching this goal. The author has also provided an excellent bibliography for the serious student of Bismarck. This bibliography includes the...

(The entire section is 498 words.)