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Learning Empire
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Book description

The First World War marked the end point of a process of German globalization that began in the 1870s, well before Germany acquired a colonial empire or extensive overseas commercial interests. Structured around the figures of five influential economists who shaped the German political landscape, Learning Empire explores how their overseas experiences shaped public perceptions of the world and Germany's place in it. These men helped define a German liberal imperialism that came to influence the 'world policy' (Weltpolitik) of Kaiser Wilhelm, Chancellor Bülow, and Admiral Tirpitz. They devised naval propaganda, reshaped Reichstag politics, were involved in colonial and financial reforms, and helped define the debate over war aims in the First World War. Looking closely at German worldwide entanglements, Learning Empire recasts how we interpret German imperialism, the origins of the First World War, and the rise of Nazism, inviting reflection on the challenges of globalization in the current century.


'The history of Imperial Germany is currently being re-written, and Learning Empire is the most sustained and profound intervention yet: A magisterial tour-de-force that establishes Germany as a global player in the decades before World War I. Meticulously documented and driven by a strong vision, it reinstates the middle classes, and economic specialists in particular, as the driving forces behind Germany’s global quest. Impressive!'

Sebastian Conrad - Freie Universität Berlin

'Erik Grimmer-Solem's new book is a sustained tour de force of integrated intellectual and political history, whose impact will surely shift our perspectives on the complicated meanings of the ‘German question’ for the transnational instabilities of global politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.'

Geoff Eley - University of Michigan

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