In an introductory attempt to justify the series title-- and in words worthy of the German distorters of Hegel--Bismarck is hailed as not only ""the greatest German since Martin Luther...not only...the most important man in the history of Germany, but also of the entire European continent in the second half of the nineteenth century."" His attributes, according to the authors, assured his achievements: he was a man of ""towering physical body (and) great intellect, "" the latter made manifest in ""immense insight (and) truly phenomenal breadth of vision;"" he also had ""tremendous courage"" and an ""enormous appetite."" How the ""most notorious hell raiser in the history of Gottingen University"" became the blood and iron Chancellor of a newly-unified Germany is told in a well-knit narrative which spotlights his contempt for democratic procedures and principles and his skill at diplomatic maneuvering. As the fountainhead of power for twenty years, Bismarck was active on both the domestic and foreign fronts: at home, his attempt to suppress the power of the Catholic Church failed, and his effort to thwart the Socialist Party by sponsoring social security benefits was only briefly successful; abroad, he gained time to consolidate Germany's position by setting up a system of military alliances which cancelled out the contending powers. At the time he was dropped by William II, his success in ruling singly was such that the ""German people were cast in the solid mold of obedience."" The authors end better than they have begun, but an aura of hero worship hangs over the whole, whereas a more balanced treatment would have served history better.