"In choosing the Von Moltkes," wrote Library Journal, "Friedrich chronicles, assesses, and illuminates an often tragic century of German history--a history as much of Bismarck, Hitler, Wagner, Strauss, Mann, and Brecht. His engaging, accessible style puts this tumultuous period in Europe in reach of lay readers, history buffs, and scholars alike." "Friedrich has written," Christopher Lehmann-Haupt declared in the New York Times, "a multifaceted volume that is at once historical narrative, biography, and engrossing family history." "A triple biography," explained the American Library Association's Booklist, "Helmuth Carl Bernhard von Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von Moltke, and Helmuth James von Moltke. They were, respectively, Germany's greatest military strategist, Germany's worst, and one of Germany's notable victims of Nazidom."
The von Moltke family played a critical role in every major crisis of more than a century of turbulent German history, starting with the Franco-Prussian War and then World Wars I & II. By viewing the country through the von Moktkes, Otto Friedrich created an historical perspective that is fresh and vital to understanding modern Germany. The book begins in the Franco-Prussian War when Field Marshal von Moltke defeats the Austrians, besieges and conquers Paris in 1871, and proceeds to make the German Empire the dominant power in Europe. The story continues with the Field Marshal's nephew, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von Moltke, Chief of Staff of the German armies in 1914. This von Moltke, with his armies on the Marne only twenty miles from Paris, suffers a nervous breakdown and is removed from command. The story then arcs to World War II, with the great, great nephew of the Field Marshall, Count Helmuth James von Moltke, a leader of the underground resistance to Hitler, who is arrested by the Gestapo and executed for treason in the last months of the war.
A multitude of sources, including letters and interviews by Freya von Moltke and other family members, were instrumental in substantiating all stories and events. "Crammed with fascinating nuggets about a large cast of historical figures," wrote the Boston Globe, "this imaginative and engagingly written book is bound to attract a wide audience."
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About the Author
Otto Friedrich was born in Boston and attended Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in history at the age of nineteen. He moved to Europe where he worked for the Stars & Stripes in Germany and United Press in Paris and London. Returning to New York, he served as an editor at the Daily News, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post, the latter whose demise he chronicled in Decline and Fall, which won him a George Polk Award. Mr. Friedrich then joined Time magazine where he spent the next nineteen years turning out sprightly journalism for the magazine by day and a succession of elegant histories, biographies, and reams of freelance articles and book reviews by night. You can learn more about Otto and his work at OttoFriedrich.com