The Biographical Approach to History: Strengths and Weaknesses in the Context of Bismarck’s Germany

The Biographical Approach to History: Strengths and Weaknesses in the Context of Bismarck’s Germany

Length: 901 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The understanding of European politics during the latter half of the extended nineteenth century, particularly from 1848 onward to the First World War, is as much about the European political climate as a whole as it is about the key figures within this climate. For example, one cannot fully understand the multitude of independence and nationalist movements in the Balkans during this time without first understanding the outside pressures placed on these movements by the three competing empires of the Russians, Habsburgs, and Ottomans; and only then delving into the multitude of persons whom inspired the individual movements. Likewise, understanding the German situation at this time is just as much about the European picture as a whole, as it is about the people within the German system itself; of which, Otto von Bismarck is clearly the synonymous figure. With that said, it follows that a purely biographical approach to this turbulent time in German politics, focused on Bismarck, will leave one largely without the knowledge of the greater European situation; however, this same biographical approach also helps to understand the political interworking and personal relationships that forged a unified Germany, something that the study of the European climate as a whole fails to do.
The biographical approach to German unification in Bruce Waller’s Bismarck leaves the reader without much information on the European political picture as a whole and by no means provides a plethora of information on many of the political power players outside of Bismarck’s Germany. For example, Waller’s approach to Bismarck’s economic foreign policy is clearly lacking an explanation of outside factors, and those factors of the European economic situat...


... middle of paper ...


...e, if one is seeking to obtain knowledge of the European political climate in general, then an account such as Hobsbawm’s is vastly more helpful in understanding the bigger picture; likewise, Fulbrook’s account on German history as a whole provides a similar level of big picture understanding but in a uniquely German setting. However, if one already has a grasp on the bigger picture, then Waller’s Bismarck is most likely the best option to advance one’s knowledge to a new level. Thus, biographical approaches to history are only truly helpful once one understands the events taking place outside of the life of the figure in question.



Works Cited

Bruce Waller, Bismarck, (Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1997)
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire 1875-1914, (New York: Vintage Books, 1989)
Mary Fulbrook, A Concise History of Germany, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about A Transcultural Approach to The Verbunkos Idiom in The Music of Liszt

- Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was a cosmopolitan European composer and piano virtuoso of the Romantic era. Although it was his place of birth, Liszt spent most of his formative years away from Hungary, though he returned to his homeland many times over the course of his life. Liszt’s allegiance to Hungary can be found in many of his compositions through the Hungarian-Gypsy folk idiom verbunkos; however, most analyses of his “Hungarian” music are oversimplified and exoticist because of a nationalist perspective....   [tags: Music]

Better Essays
846 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on A Look Into Germany

- Country background: Germany is currently the second most populous nation in Europe and one of the continents largest economies [1]. Since the early half 20th century the nation has gone through 2 world wars. Germany was originally divided into two former states known as the western federal republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German democratic republic (GDR). The FRG was a key member of western security, and economic organizations. The communist GDR was mainly involved with the Soviet-led Warsaw pact....   [tags: Germany]

Better Essays
1394 words (4 pages)

Essay on Germany : A Beautiful Country Of Rich And Bold History

- Germany is a beautiful country of rich and bold history. Since its birth at the Congress of Vienna, this nation has undergone many changes. Many changes good, and some not so good. From the rise of the Nazi Party to the demolition of the Berlin wall to the Berlin Olympics, these changes are evident in the nation’s flags. Its government was responsible for most of these changes, and just as the national anthem is tied to the nations government so is its flag. Because the government changed so much about the nation throughout time, we can analyze it by looking at the many different flags the country has had....   [tags: Germany, Nazi Germany, Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler]

Better Essays
1154 words (3.3 pages)

History Of Germany After World War II Essay

- History of Germany after World War II After the Second World War, the Germany has been divided into the four zones under the control of the former Soviet Union, United States, France and Britain. In 1945, it was Potsdam conference; there was treatment of uniformity of the German population all over the Germany. The Social Market Economy has certainly achieved this aim: capital formation in Germany has remained at a very high level throughout the postwar period (Stolper & Roskamp, 1979).The desired power of the administrative department of the Germany was focused on the economic recovery of the Germany is the prerequisites revival of the postwar Europe....   [tags: Germany, World War II, East Germany, West Germany]

Better Essays
839 words (2.4 pages)

The Separation of Germany Essay

- One of the darkest chapters in German history besides other historical occurrences is the separation of Germany. The construction of the wall on August 13th, 1961 parted families from each other overnight. All at once people lost their jobs because their workplace was in another occupation zone. Many people couldn’t even reach their homes. Until 1989 innumerable citizens of the DDR tried to attain to their family again or to the supposed free world. Some of them managed it and got over the monumental building of the border fortifications but others got injured or even shot when they tried to escape....   [tags: German History ]

Better Essays
870 words (2.5 pages)

Germany : The Country Of Germany Essay

- Germany Throughout the history of the world, there have been many great nations to rise and make an impact on the entire globe. One of the most well known of these nations is the country of Germany. In its history, Germany has been one of the most influential countries in all of Europe. This great nation holds many geographical locations of historical significance as well as beautiful scenery. History, for centuries, has held the German people in high regard for their militaristic capabilities and ingenuity....   [tags: World War II, Germany, Nazi Germany, World War I]

Better Essays
1680 words (4.8 pages)

Greece And Germany : An Intricate History Of Bloodshed And Money Essay

- Greece and Germany have an intricate history of bloodshed and money. Despite this, the story between these two countries of Europe is not a gang rivalry, but a rivalry of debt. Greece has always been known to be a country with very generous benefits to its citizens. According to Connor Wolf, approximately 75 per cent of Greece’s workers retired before the age of 61 in 2007 with hefty pensions. This type of excessive leniency led its economy to failure; Greece had no choice but to borrow money from other countries, mainly Germany....   [tags: World War II, Nazi Germany, Fascism, Adolf Hitler]

Better Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

Hungary and Germany Essay

- I pledge to you, my people. We shall never forget. And never again go so sheepishly to such a terrible death.” Sonia Warshaski. In 1930 the Nazi’s were gaining control of Hungary causing them to fall under their influence. In the previous years the Nazi’s helped Hungary regain their land in World War 1. In 1940 Hungary then becomes part of the axis powers. The Axis powers included Italy, Germany, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. Hungary puts anti-Jewish laws and decrees into place. There were about 825,000 Hungarian Jews in 1941.This is very similar to what Germany does and this leads to Hungary during the war....   [tags: world history, nazi germany, jews]

Better Essays
960 words (2.7 pages)

History of Nazi Germany Essay

- History of Nazi Germany National Socialism between 1920 and 1945 can best be described as an era of constant change. Hitler's enrollment in the German Worker's Party provided him the foundation needed to propel his idealistic views of anti-Semitism and Aryan superiority. Soon after Hitler's enrollment the party's name was changed to the National Socialist German Worker's Party and in the summer of 1921 his talents as an orator and propagandist enabled him to take over the leadership of the Nazi Party....   [tags: World War II History]

Free Essays
1214 words (3.5 pages)

Weimar, Germany Essay example

- Weimar, Germany In examining great social and cultural changes in the modern West, many specific events come to mind: the Renaissance and the Reformation, the “discovery” of the Americas, industrialization, and World War Two. One such event, often overlooked, is the “Great War”, 1914-1918. Like every people affected by the expanse of this war, Germans were deeply affected and forever changed. As a social, cultural, and psychological reaction to World War I, the German people created the Weimar Republic, leading to a drastic change in German society and culture....   [tags: Germany German History Culture Essays]

Better Essays
4400 words (12.6 pages)