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Young Wilhelm

Young Wilhelm
The Kaiser's Early Life, 1859–1888


  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107565968

£ 44.99

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About the Authors
  • This rich and compelling volume describes the life of Kaiser Wilhelm II from his birth in 1859 to his accession to the Prusso-German throne in 1888, a story so extraordinary that it will fascinate anyone interested in the psychology and the throng of personalities of the period. Its aim is to set the characters on the stage and let them speak for themselves, which in their letters and diaries the Victorians and Wilhelminians did with quite extraordinary clarity and persuasive power. The central theme is the bitter conflict between the handicapped Prince and his liberal parents, and in particular with his mother, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the utter failure of a daring educational experiment intended to turn the young Prince into a liberal Anglophile.

    • One of the most deeply researched and stylishly written scholarly biographies of recent times
    • An incomparably rich and absorbing analysis of the Kaiser's upbringing and psychology, and of the extraordinary range of personalities surrounding him
    • Translated expertly under the author's guidance from the German edition which sold in many tens of thousands of copies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'It is a masterpiece … enthrallingly readable.' Niall Ferguson, The Sunday Times

    Review of the hardback: 'Röhl's biography is a stunning achievement by any yardstick, a definitive work which breaks new ground.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    Review of the hardback: '… the definitive biography of Germany's last Emperor. No other scholar has Röhl's command of the sources or his deep commitment to understanding Wilhelm's place in history'. James J. Sheehan, The Times Literary Supplement

    Review of the hardback: '… a masterpiece … shows just how compelling and how readable academic history can be.' Charlotte Zeepvat, Royalty Digest

    Review of the hardback: '… Röhl tells a morbidly fascinating story will skill and impeccable scholarship.' The Court Historian

    Review of the hardback: 'The morbid charm of Europe's high nobility has evidently cast its spell over the author. Not only their love affairs but also their illnesses exert a quite irresistible attraction … His account of the Crown Prince's fatal illness of cancer of the larynx, which dominates the last 200 pages of the book … must be the most exact medical record ever written by a historian.' Volker Ulrich, Die Zeit

    Review of the hardback: 'It is unlikely that another biography of Wilhelm II will ever surpass the level of detail or the depth of archival knowledge Röhl has achieved.' Isabel V. Hull, Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107565968
    • length: 998 pages
    • dimensions: 247 x 174 x 39 mm
    • weight: 1.69kg
    • contains: 32 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface to the English edition
    Introduction to the German edition
    1. Birth trauma: 'It's alive and it's a prince'
    2. Disorder and early sorrow
    3. Ambivalent motherhood
    4. An English princess at the Prussian court
    5. Blood and history
    6. Education fit for a king
    7. The doctor
    8. Trials and tribulations
    9. Experiment in Kassel
    10. Spring dreams and awakening
    11. Coming of age
    12. The student prince
    13. A question of balance: the inner-ear illness of Kaiser Wilhelm II
    14. Cabal and love
    15. Estrangement
    16. Politics
    17. First steps in foreign affairs: Prince Wilhelm between England and Russia
    18. Eros and Austria
    19. 'W. W. W.': Wilhelm-Wedel-Waldersee
    20. Prince Wilhelm and the Battenberg conspiracy
    21. The crown prince's nightmares
    22. The gradual seizure of power
    23. Waldersee and the world conflagration
    24. The edge of darkness: the crown prince on the eve of catastrophe
    25. The flight of the crown prince in the face of death
    26. Prince Wilhelm and Queen Victoria's Jubilee
    27. Crisis in San Remo
    28. The Stoecker meeting and the break with the Bismarcks
    29. Prince Wilhelm and the war party
    30. Preparing for power
    31. The macabre race for the throne
    32. Impotence and agony
    List of archival sources
    List of books cited

  • Author

    John C. G. Röhl, University of Sussex
    John C. G. Röhl is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sussex. His many previous publications include The Kaiser and his Court (1994) which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize as well as the two other volumes of his biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II – Wilhelm II: The Kaiser's Personal Monarchy, 1888–1900 (Cambridge, 2004), which have won the Einhard Prize for the biography of a major European figure in 2012, and Wilhelm II: Into the Abyss of War and Exile, 1900–1941 (2014).

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