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review 2018-06-22 16:35
A good assessment of a German statesman
Adenauer - Ronald Eckford Mill Irving

Twice in the last two centuries Germany was directed by an elderly man who exercised disproportionate control over their nation's development at a critical time in their history. The first was Otto von Bismarck, who created the German empire in 1871 and presided over its development for nearly two decades. The second was Konrad Adenauer, who became the first chancellor of postwar West Germany in 1949, guiding its transition in the postwar era from a collection of occupied territories through its postwar rehabilitation and subsequent emergence as a cornerstone of a more unified Europe. Much like Bismarck, Adenauer rose to power through unlikely circumstances, but unlike Bismarck he left behind him a governing system that proved more capable of enduring without him.

 

In writing a biography of Adenauer for Longman's "Profiles in Power" series, Ronald Irving faces the task of providing both an account of Adenauer's life and an examination of how he exercised his authority. This he succeeds in doing, providing an account that is understandably weighted towards analysis of his time as chancellor but still sets it within the details of Adenauer's long life. This balance is important to Irving's interpretation of Adenauer, whom he sees as a product of his early life as a Catholic Rhinelander in Wilhelmine Germany. By the time the Second Reich collapsed in 1918 Adenauer was already mayor of Cologne, an office he would occupy for the span of the Weimar Republic. Forced out of office by the Nazis, Adenauer returned to politics after the war determined to prevent a recurrence of the Third Reich by establishing a true representative democracy in Germany, first by creating a national conservative political party across confessional lines, then by serving as chancellor of West Germany for fourteen years.

 

Nearly three-quarters of Irving's book is spent on Adenauer's postwar career, giving him the opportunity to detail the scope of the chancellor's achievement. He is particularly good at explaining Adenauer's foreign policy — both the reestablishment of a sovereign Germany and his efforts towards greater European integration — and his role in West German politics. While some background on the context of Adenauer's times helps to fully benefit from the nuance of Irving's analysis, even people seeking an English-language introduction to Adenauer will find much to value in this short, insightful study.

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review 2018-06-08 14:20
My one-hundred and third podcast is up!
EuroTragedy A Drama in Nine Acts - Ashoka Mody

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Ashoka Mody about his history of the euro and its impact upon the economies of the countries in the region. Enjoy!

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text 2018-05-13 11:53
From Twitter (for the resident ESC Aficionados): Eurovision Acts as EarlyModernists

 

 



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

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photo 2018-05-12 19:27

Let the cult begin!

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review 2018-04-29 18:35
Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire by Leslie Peirce
Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire - Leslie Peirce

I became fascinated with this woman of history after I read a fictional account of her in a book titled, "Harem" by Colin Falconer. Then I discovered a Turkish tv series called Magnificent Century and I have been hooked. I've done little reading since then.

 

This is the story of Hurrem Sultan, (Roxelena), and how she became one of the most powerful woman in the world when she became wife of Sultan Suleiman, ruler of the Ottoman Empire. I just find it amazing how a person who was taken and sold as a slave, rose to such power by sheer will and determination. Although much is not known, due to the secrecy behind palace walls and especially of the harem, it was still fascinating to read about what is known. The love that Suleiman had for this woman must have been very special for him to break tradition and marry his concubine, which was unheard of, and not repeated after they died.

 

Recommended for historical fans. The TV series is quite addicting also, although so far only the first season and a little of the second is subtitled. Season 1 is available on Netflix instant play, season 2 on Youtube.  Not sure about season 3 or 4, but this show has been out for awhile. Anyway, I wish I knew Turkish.

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