Imperial Germany focuses on the domestic political developments of the period, putting them into context through a balanced guide to the economic and social background, culture and foreign policy. This important study explores the tensions caused within an empire which was formed through war, against the prevailing liberal spirit of the age and poses many questions among them: * Was the desire to unify Germany the cause of the aggressive foreign policy leading to the First World War? * To what extent was Bismarck's Second Reich the forerunner of Hitler's Third? * Did Bismarck's authoritarian rule permanently hinder the political development of Germany? Recent debates raised by German scholarship are made accessible to English speaking readers, and the book summarises the important controversies and competing interpretations of imperial German history.