Chancellor under Wilhelm I and for a generation almost undisputed master of Germany, Bismarck was less phenomenal for this achievement than for the unique fact that he possessed any power. He was stubborn and cold, distrustful, contemptuous of both his superiors and inferiors. Without a personal following, Bismarck was likewise devoid of friends except for two known from his schooldays. Occasional bursts of charm with foreign dignitaries were perhaps his only redeeming streak of humanity. Intellectually Bismarck was shrewd, but his education was limited and his knowledge of social and economic conditions dated by a half century or more. Not even birth favored his career. Bismarck lived as an obscure Junker landowner, without wealth or lineage, derided for his foibles until the age of 30. The secret of his astonishing rise lay in the close identity of Bismarck's own emotional and psychic conservatism with all that was restrictive and monarchical in the greater Germany of his day. The biography convincingly captures this alliance of Bismarck's massive personality and the forces of history. A solid yet lively work, for the general reader with a historical bent.