Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) is one of the most fascinating figures in European history, ruling Imperial Germany from his accession in 1888 to his enforced abdication in 1918 at the end of the First World War. In one slim volume, John Roehl offers readers a concise and accessible survey of his monumental three-volume biography of the Kaiser and his reign. The book sheds new light on Wilhelm's troubled youth, his involvement in social and political scandals, and his growing thirst for glory, which, combined with his overwhelming nationalism and passion for the navy provided the impetus for a breathtaking long-term goal: the transformation of the German Reich into one of the foremost powers in the world. The volume examines the crucial role played by Wilhelm as Germany's Supreme War Lord in the policies that led to war in 1914. It concludes by describing the rabid anti-Semitism he developed in exile and his efforts to persuade Hitler to restore him to the throne.
John C. G. Rohl is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Sussex. His many previous publications include The Kaiser and his Court (1994) which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize as well as the two previous volumes of his biography of Kaiser Wilhelm II - Young Wilhelm: The Kaiser's Early Life, 1859-1888 (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Wilhelm II: The Kaiser's Personal Monarchy, 1888-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2004), which have won the Einhard Prize for the biography of a major European figure in 2012.
Preface to the English edition; Preface to the German edition; Overview: Wilhelm the Last, a German trauma; Part I. 1859-88: The Tormented Prussian Prince: 1. The 'soul murder' of an heir to the throne; 2. Ambivalent motherhood; 3. A daring educational experiment; 4. The conflict between the Prince of Prussia and his parents; 5. 1888: the year of the three Kaisers; Part II. 1888-1900: The Anachronistic Autocrat: 6. Divine right without end; 7. Bismarck's fall from power, 1889-90; 8. The establishment of the Kaiser's personal monarchy, 1890-97; 9. The Chancellor as courtier: the corrupt Bulow system (1897-1909); Part III. 1896-1908: The Egregious Expansionist: 10. The challenge to Europe: Weltmachtpolitik and the battlefleet; 11. The Russo-Japanese War and the meeting of the emperors on Bjoerkoe (1904-5); 12. War in the west? The landing in Tangier and the fiasco of Algeciras (1905-6); 13. The intensification of the Anglo-German conflict; Part IV. 1906-9: The Scandal-Ridden Sovereign: 14. The Eulenburg affair (1906-9); 15. Bulow's betrayal of the Kaiser: the Daily Telegraph crisis (1908-9); 16. From Bulow to Bethmann Hollweg: the Chancellor merry-go-round of 1909; Part V. 1908-14: The Bellicose Supreme War Lord: 17. The Bosnian annexation crisis (1908-9); 18. The 'leap of the Panther' to Agadir (1911); 19. The battlefleet and the growing risk of war with Britain (1911-12); 20. Doomed to failure: the Haldane mission of 1912; 21. Turmoil in the Balkans and a first decision for war (November 1912); 22. War postponed: the 'War Council' of 8 December 1912; 23. The postponed war draws nearer (1913-14); 24. The Kaiser in the crisis of July 1914; Part VI. 1914-18: The Champion of God's Germanic Cause: 25. The Kaiser's war aims; 26. The impotence of the supreme war lord at war; 27. Downfall: the collapse of the Hohenzollern monarchy; Part VII. The Vengeful Exile (1918-41); 28. A new life in Amerongen and Doorn; 29. The rabid anti-Semite in exile; 30. The Kaiser and Hitler; Index.