Whitewashing Bismarck just won’t wash

The reviewer’s first duty is to declare any skin he may have in the game, so here goes: I write this in a bone-chillingly old house filled with portraits of Prussian Junkers, ancestors of my third son, the oldest of them still wearing steel plate about chest and shoulders, the more recent armoured only by expressions of ineffable superiority. What a lot of them there are. Somehow their Lutheran Prussia — dirt poor by the standards of France and Britain but uniquely militarised, its spiritual heart so far east as to be now in Russia — managed, in the second half of the 19th century, to annex the entire human