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Learning Empire
Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875–1919


  • Publication planned for: September 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from September 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108483827

£ 34.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Highlights Germany's entanglement with the world since the 1870s, particularly the importance of the United States, Japan, and China in the development of German imperialism
    • Recasts the pre-war imperial rivalries between Germany and the other great powers as a response to the challenges of global trade, investment, and migration
    • Connects German liberal imperialism with German war aims and with the interwar German right and National Socialism, to explain why 'the German question' was resolved after 1945, but not after 1918
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: September 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108483827
    • length: 668 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 162 x 35 mm
    • weight: 1.19kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 12 maps
    • availability: Not yet published - available from September 2019
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Absent-Minded Empire, 1875–1897:
    1. Frontier empire: the United States
    2. Island empire: Japan
    3. World economy: China and Venezuela
    Part II. Empire Imagined, 1897–1907:
    4. World policy
    5. The High Seas Fleet and power politics
    6. National efficiency and the new mercantilism
    7. Formal and informal empire
    8. Empire in crisis
    Part III. Empire Lost, 1908–1919:
    9. Colonial dreams
    10. World policy contained
    11. From world policy to world war
    12. War aims, peace resolutions, and defeat

  • Author

    Erik Grimmer-Solem, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
    Erik Grimmer-Solem is Professor in the Departments of History and German Studies at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He is the author of numerous works including The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany (2003). He was a University of Chicago Harper Fellow and has received awards from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust, as well as two distinguished teaching prizes from Wesleyan University, Connecticut. His research on the Wehrmacht's involvement in the Holocaust was discussed in the newsweekly Der Spiegel, and debated in German parliament in 2014.

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