19th century Europe produced some of the greatest soldiers, statesmen, scientists, artists, and thinkers of any period in recorded history. And by the middle of that century nationalism had emerged triumphant from Ireland to Greece, and many new nations, including Germany and Italy, had appeared. But nationalism was accompanied by a chauvinistic impulse toward militarism. At the same time, new explorations were beginning to open the continent of Africa to colonial opportunities, an activity also pursued in Asia and the Pacific. Along with the new political developments came astounding scientific advances led by men like Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin and Alfred Einstein. Meanwhile, the economic theories of Marx and the philosophical musings of Nietzsche roiled the minds of millions and produced profound undercurrents of political and social tension. Across this fabric of seething ethnic emotions and boundless imperial ambition strode the mighty figure of Otto von Bismark, the greatest statesman of his era. With his unshakeable belief in blood and iron and an unerring eye for compromise and balance of power, Bismark guided the German Empire to the pinnacle of success only to have his life's work threatened by the impetuosity of the egocentric Kaiser Wilhelm II. Listen as this great work unfolds and learn how the fabulous civilization of Europe strutted across the world stage in a glittering sheen of self-aggrandizing splendor, while unconsciously choosing the path to disaster. As autocratic and backward Russia and Turkey lurch from crisis to crisis, and the other European states watch German militarism with a growing sense of dread, revanchiste France bides her time. Secret alliances and an uncontrollable arms race follow, while Europe awaits the spark that will set off a conflagration that many have long expected.More
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