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Dueling; The Cult of Honor in Fin-de-Siecle Germany Hardcover – October 3, 1994

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Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany
A two-volume history of the campaigns that determined control of Germany following Napoleon's catastrophic defeat in Russia. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

According to McAleer (history, Free Univ., Berlin), the ritual violence of a culture defines that culture. Here he argues that dueling in Wilhelmine Germany, although only practiced by an aristocratic minority, helped shape German attitudes toward honor, manhood, women, and other countries. McAleer gives a fascinating glimpse into a deadly icon of the German popular imagination during the Kaiserreich. Whether or not one was of sufficient rank to be able to give satisfaction in a duel of honor defined one's status. McAleer has a strong sardonic sense of humor that seems out of place in a scholarly book, and his conclusion that the duel was symptomatic of Germany's Sonderweg, or peculiar path, which led to the Nazis, is at best questionable. Nevertheless, this is an accurate look at a misunderstood topic in German culture with few comparable books in English. Recommended for academic libraries with a strong German studies collections.
Randall L. Schroeder, Augustana Coll., Rock Island, Ill.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"[The book] contains excellent material on the mechanics of the duel, and penetrating passages on every subject it deals with. McAleer is often clever and always spirited."--David Blackbourn, London Review of Books

"[A] well-researched and entertainingly written study."--Richard J. Evans, The Times Literary Supplement

"[An] engaging and valuable monograph. . . . [McAleer] has presented his account with verve, wit, and a rich and colorful vocabulary. . . . This book deserves an established place in the bibliography on modern German society."--Vernon L. Ludtke, American Historical Review

"A positively captivating look at turn-of-the-century Germany. . . . "--D. R. Dorondo, The Historian

"[McAleer] argues that dueling in Wilhelmine Germany, although only practiced by an aristocratic minority, helped shape German attitudes toward honor, women, and other countries. . . . a fascinating glimpse into a deadly icon of the German popular imagination. . . ."--Library Journal

"Between 1871, when the Franco-Prussian war ended, and 1914, when the first world war began . . . German officers kept boredom at bay by killing each other in pistol duels. . . . Kevin McAleer's book is extraordinarily comprehensive, taking the astonished reader through the dueling ritual from first provocation to final death agony."--The Economist

"Kevin McAleer has dispelled any romanticism surrounding the nineteenth-century German duel. . . . [He] wholeheartedly enters into the fascinating intricacies of dueling. . . . [and] keeps his moral indignation at bay, with a tone of ironic humor throughout."--Alexander Rose, Literary Review

"[This] portrait of Germany's dueling classes is vivid and appalling. It fully illustrates the book's wonderful epigraph, taken from W. Somerset Maugham: "Man has always found it easier to sacrifice his life than to learn the multiplication table."--Lee Lescaze, Wall Street Journal

"Kevin Mcaleer has spent five years researching the fin-de-siecle German duel. . . . The results . . . are contained in this intriguing book. One is left staggered at the triviality of the causes for which men were willing to risk death. . . . and at the pretentiousness of the pseudo-chivalrous etiquette of the German duel."--Sunday Telegraph (London)

". . . [a] lively, opinionated account of dueling in Germany. McAleer is thorough about the weapons, the customs, even the proper dress for dueling, and he's properly sardonic about the adolescent code of honor that perpetuated it."--Men's Journal

". . . the book has many virtues. It contains excellent material on the mechanics of the duel, and penetrating passages on every subject it deals with. McAleer is often clever and always spirited."--London Review of Books

"[An] unusually lively, informative, and provocative description and interpretation of the duel in recent Germany's cultural, social, and legal history. . . . McAleer concludes persuasively that Germany's dueling tradition . . . leads inexorably to Nazism, a finding that ensures controversy. Based on archival and rare published materials and belles lettres, with illustrations and bibliography, this is a refreshingly unconventional, suggestive, and strongly recommended study."--Choice

"A positively captivating look at turn-of-the-century Germany.... The phenomenon of the affair of honor must, as it now appears in light of McAleer's efforts, be considered if one is to understand more completely the critical role of Germany's post-1890 internal evolution or that country's place in modern Europe."--D. R. Dorondo, The Historian
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (October 3, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691034621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691034621
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By P. M. Payes on July 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Quite a lot of insight into the world of German dueling....Dr. Evil has a mansuer scar....shouldn't you?

Seriously....GREAT read!!!!!!!!!!!!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By alex critchfield on February 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In addition to the dueling aspect which is the subject of this book, it provides an interesting look into the lifestyle of end of the century europe. A few sections come off a bit dry and must be pushed through but that is to be expected in any informative work. One thing I was slightly disappointed with is a lack of a section detailing actual duels the author researched. Weaponry, style, result, and the pretext which started conflict would make for a nice appendix. I would recommend this book to people who wish to look at history from a different perspective instead of just wars and revolutions.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Sausser on July 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All as expected
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