• Bismarck

  • The Man and the Statesman
  • By: A.J.P. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Bismarck  By  cover art

Bismarck

By: A.J.P. Taylor
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $27.99

Buy for $27.99

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In this compelling biography, historian A. J. P. Taylor reevaluates Bismarck's motives and methods, focusing on the chancellor's rise to power in the 1860s and his removal from office in 1890.

©1955 A. J. P. Taylor (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Mr. Taylor has performed the difficult task of compressing the most earth-shaking career between Napoleon and Hitler into fewer than 300 pages with conspicuous success." ( Times Literary Supplement)

What listeners say about Bismarck

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    77
  • 4 Stars
    32
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    80
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    64
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good, but read a primer first

a good history, written with wit and attention to detail, but absolutely dense with minute and somewhat opaque historical references a newcomer to Bismarck will have practically no way of understanding. Those hoping for more personal, anecdotal material may also be disappointed. This is a work that keeps the focus strictly on the minutiae of Bismarck's domestic and foreign intrigues. In the end, one gets a clear sense of the statesman, but perhaps not the man. His close political allies, associates and other contemporaries are also extremely submerged in this account. One doesn't get a sense of how he interacted with these people on a personal level. Only the great chancellor and William 1 truly occupy the stage in this telling. To get the most out of this book requires a robust and broad understanding of the period and it's principal actors; a deep dive for those looking for a blow by blow account of his intricate, behind the scenes policy manouevers. A little dry, slighly myopic at times, but a solid work.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A One-Man Cult of Personality

Still the definitive biography of The Great Chancellor, Alan Taylor’s masterful story of Bismarck will never be surpassed. Bismarck’s was a cult of one. He was not a hero, not a soldier, not much of a politician. Instead, by force of personality he created things, not just Modern Germany but the concept of realpolitik, over a century after his death still the foreign policy of choice in big-power relations. How did he do it? By agile maneuvering, by consensus-building, shrewd negotiation, by use of force? No. Bismarck stewed over a problem or goal alone, then announced what was to be done, and that was that. Yet he was no dictator. He introduced universal suffrage and strengthened the legislature as a check on the Kaiser. But since his focus was foreign policy, and since he created the apparatus to serve his foreign policy, whether to make treaties or go to war, he acted, at his peak, without the constraints of either the politicians or the Kaiser. He loved his solitude in his country home yet pined for the action of Berlin, where he could cause trouble and vanquish real or imagined rivals. Though a devoted family man, Bismarck was not personally popular with his colleagues but prevailed simply by force of personality. Bismarck was a staunch conservative, and yet Germany under Bismarck was a progressive, stable, prosperous democracy, not at all the Germany of WWI or WWII. The narration was excellent, giving voice to Taylor’s irreverent style. Taylor himself is not overawed by Bismarck and presents him as a deeply flawed man, but one unlike any other I’ve encountered. Do not take seriously unhinged complaints about this book. This must-read book by one of our great historians, convincingly illustrates how history is indeed made by exceptional individuals.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

I have read many biographies including Churchill, Neopoleon, Grant, Hoover, Eisenhower and more
this does not follow the norm. Typically we learn of the subect's early years and the formation of the person and the leaderl they become. We learn of either privilege or austere up bringings and how these form their decisions later in life. Most writers bring life to their subject with clever stories, opionions and insight. This book does none of that. it jumps in and has all the depth and passion of a business journal I can't recommend this book.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great narration

The narrator makes a great effort to pronounce foreign works and names correctly. He did an excellent job.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent book

The writing and narration are excellent. The book assumes you know basic history of the time, which I did not. However, by pausing and looking up a few things, I was able to understand. Getting a sense as to who Bismarck was as an individual was excellent.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Best-in-Class Biography

AJP Taylor is a tremendous historian and an excellent writer. I have surveyed all major works on German history during this period and consider this the best available Audible title for two specific reasons having to do with Taylor’s understanding of the topic and his approach to history itself.

Reason #1:
Sometimes a good writer will jump into a topic and write a book in a short period of time which doesn’t have the depth of thought to reflect the depth of the subject. That is not the case with Taylor and this time period. He has spent his whole career doing groundbreaking research on the geopolitics of the period and has written several books on German history before and after this time. This gives him the subject matter expertise on the time and space to do this right.

Reason #2:
Another fundamental aspect of this book I enjoyed was Taylor’s recognition that what is now the well-documented past was once the unpredictable future. This comes across on every page of this book. Nowhere is it assumed that X event will happen a year after Y decision. All decisions are discussed in the mindset of a person with only the information available at that time. The flawed theories of today were once the best known explanations of yesterday and Taylor is respectful of that uncertainty in all his subjects’ minds.

These two aspects of Taylor’s writing stand out to make this a simply marvelous work.

I can only hope Audible will record all AJP Taylor’s other works, especially “the Course of German History”.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Solid overview, but reads like Cliffs Notes

There's a wealth of information here, to be sure. This text follows the political life of OVB chronologically, tracing the events of his many years in power and his eventual fall from grace. This is a decent first text as an introduction to OVB, and is narrated quite well. However: for the number of events this book attempts to discuss, it is simply too short -- the events themselves are covered so quickly that it is hard to remember one from another after having finished the text, and there is little attention given to explaining the causes of events, or details/motivations behind OVB's actions. Taylor frequently asserts "facts" about Bismarck's motivations, outlook, and personality, and often digresses briefly to praise or criticize him, but offers little in the way of evidence or explanation for these views.

This text is just fine as historical nonfiction, but I can't recommend it. You'll be neither bored-by nor expert-in Bismarck by its conclusion. Were it 3x its current length, it would likely be brilliant -- but as is, it's a short book about a very long career.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

surprisingly good

considering the mediocre reviews this books received online, I found it interesting, well paced, and reasonably balanced

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Nice info

Some parts of this biography are a bit vague especially for someone uninformed of 19th century, but overall it is a solid biography about a great man!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A very good overview

This is a good introduction to Bismarck. Vital to understanding modern Germany and Europe. We mostly get the British version of European history. It's refreshing to get other points of view.