Books: More Blood, Less Iron

BISMARCK by Werner Richter. 420 pages. Putnam. $6.95.

He was a chub-cheeked country boy, with sly blue eyes, reddish-blond hair and a face, as he described it, "like a young girl with a bit of a moustache." Such was the appearance of the greatest German of his time. Otto von Bismarck made Prussia dominant in Germany and Germany dominant in Europe. He has inspired a shelf of biographies but remains essentially a riddle. Was he a selfless hero or a scheming tyrant?

Bismarck was quite a bit of both but, above all, a much misjudged figure, argues Werner Richter, a German biographer who...

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