I meant to read this book in 2014, but may have gotten side-tracked with other books about WWI in that year...
I'll keep a running post for reading updates for this book as it will encompass too much information to deal with in one post and I would like to keep notes while reading - and I would like to keep the notes in one place.
Chapters 2 & 3 - "Great Britain and Splendid Isolation" & "Woe to the Country that has a Child for a King! - Wilhelm II and Germany":
We get an introduction to the biography of British PM Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, and Wilhelm II, but interestingly to me we also get some background to Bernhard von Buelow, the German diplomat who would succeed Bismarck after his falling out with Wilhelm.
The description of W. II does indeed portray him as somewhat juvenile in both thoughts and deeds, apparently always seeking to defy someone. Anyone.
"In 1890 the Chancellor lost control of the Reichstag and did his best to stir up a political crisis so that he would have an excuse to destroy it and tear up the constitution. Wilhelm I might have gone along with such a plan but his grandson was not prepared to do so. The new Kaiser was increasingly alarmed by Bismarck’s intransigence and was not in any case prepared to submit to his guidance (or to that of any one else for that matter)."
MacMillan also portrays him as incompetent and impetuous and paranoid - who was not easily managed and could not be controlled by the Reichstag, because the Reichstag was not empowered to do so.
W.II's rhetoric - not all of which he may have meant on a political level - allowed for individuals to attain commissions in government that opposed the political views of the Reichstag, but the only power the Reichstag had was to cut W.II's budget to build more naval vessels.
Von Buelow was one such person with an agenda of his own. It makes one wish it had been a different member of the von Buelow family.
Previous updates are below the page break.