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The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War
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The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty that Armed Germany at War

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,197 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A masterwork of history restored to print and made available for the first time in trade paperback.

In this massive, compellingly readable book, America's preeminent biographer/historian brings to life Europe's richest, most powerful family, a 400-year dynasty that developed the world's most technologically advanced weapons (from cannons to submarines to anti-aircraft guns)

Paperback, 976 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Back Bay Books (first published 1968)
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Czarny Pies
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Retired people with little to do outside of the gardening season.
Shelves: european-history
The Arms of Krupp consists of 873 pages of purple prose with a Wagnerian leitmotif on the Krupp family of Essen that dominated the German steel industry during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. The first four hundred and fifty pages provide a pedestrian synthesis of German works on the Krupps covering the period up until 1943. The next two hundred and sixty pages contain a rehash of the evidence presented at Nuremberg by the prosecutors who we ...more
The Arms of Krupp 1587-1968 is a book looking at the growth and eventual dominance of the Krupp family in the German armaments industry. The Krupp family started out in the Ruhr area of Germany as merchants and traders, and evolved slowly into metalworking as a trade. At first they made tool and dye for other factories, rollers for metal, and cutlery among other metal wares. Alfred Krupp was the first to flirt with gunsmithing and cannons as a trade. Alfred took over the Krupp works, a small imp ...more
CB Brim
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is one of the best history books I have read.
Partially an epic family history and partially a fascinating behind the scenes perspective on the Franco-Prussian War, WW1 and WW2 (including the Holocaust and the Nuremberg trials), this book was incredibly hard to put down.
What's perhaps more amazing is the way it covers all the intermediate periods between the big name events with impeccable detail, for example the Weimar Republic from the view of the industrial elite which is never discussed
Christopher Saunders
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Second time reading this massive history of Germany’s biggest steel company, which for centuries provided the arms and munitions not only for its home country, but for militaries and malefactors all around the world. Manchester’s book is meticulously researched, showing both the eccentric, tormented personalities, Krupp and otherwise, who ran the firm throughout its long history (the ambitious and delusional Alfred, tragic homosexual Fritz, stern nationalist Gustav, “cannon queen” Bertha and amo ...more
THE ARMS OF KRUPP is William Manchester's massive biography of the Krupp Dynasty, beginning with the earliest records of the family in the 1500's to the death of Alfried Krupp in 1967, and the transformation of the Krupp company from a single owner concern to that of a corporation in 1968. Yet the scope of the book entails far more than just the Krupp family--one might call it a social and political biography of Germany, as viewed through the lens of this one arms manufacturing least u ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The late William Manchester, master of twentieth century popular history, made his reputation with this book, published in 1968. There will never be another book on the Krupp family like it, and not just because it’s so long, nearly half a million words and a thousand pages. It is also because the Krupps are largely forgotten today, fifty years later—and because Manchester personally talked to nearly everyone in, and connected to, the Krupp family at its height, and those people are all dead. Ju ...more
Martin Landry
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review is for the original hardcover and not the paperback reprint. I bought this book in a used book store in the late 80ies on the strong recommendation of a friend who was many years my senior, and had served in the UK during the Second World War. It was an incredible eye opener, and caused me to re-evaluate pretty much everything I'd learned in my history classes about the military events of last three centuries. If you have any doubts that wars are caused by greed, you must read this b ...more
David Stroebel
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it
William Manchester provided crucial details I needed in understanding the personality of my great-great-grandfather, Alfred Krupp (1812-1887) and how he banished and disinherited his own daughter, Engelbertha. While acknowledging Manchester's historical flaws, excessive insults and sarcasm, the book and his propensity for disliking Germans of that time, he did the research necessary for me to complete my book, "The Cannon King's Daughter: Banished from a dynasty, the true, untold story of Engelb ...more
Michael Jecks
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
A superb, readable account of this masterful company that not only provided killing machines to the Germans over a century, it also sold to pretty much anyone else, and then used slave labour to feed the Reich.

An appalling story, brilliantly told. Pretty much impossible to put down, as I learned to my cost.
This book (like other Manchester books) has a rhythm – without rhyme – but certainly a reason to the words within. The history on the “Arms of Krupp” required an independent eye, an inquisitive mind, and a pen that wouldn’t be scared to ask the hard questions in the early to mid-1960’s time frame. Manchester did this and did this extremely well – in my opinion no author did this better, then-nor-since. The completion of this book was interrupted with his personal attention at the request of Jack ...more
Very interesting and detailed narrative history of one of the world's (in)famous arms manufacturers. One sees the beginnings of the military-industrial complex which so dominates the story of recent history and crushes all in its wake. Manchester also has a gift for exploring and describing the characters of each of the dictators of the company, with their neuroses, charms, and faults portrayed vividly.

It does run a tad long (which is not a fault to me), but it does get a bit repetitive near the
Joe Krakovsky
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great report on a piece of history! Germans: some crazy, some brilliant, some both.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Monumental but mumbled. There are at least three books merged into one slightly messy tome here. The basic story of the Krupp-dynasty and their role in German history. Krupp, the Nazi supporter and exploiter and exterminator of slavelabour. Alfried, the last Krupp and his tragedy . Having them intertwined tends to defocus and create an uneven and obviously biased account. Perhaps a rewrite at 50 years of distance would be beneficial?

Still it is worth the the arduous slog through the many pages a
Terry Cornell
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A very long book, but it covers a long span of history, 1587 to 1968. This is a history of the Krupp family and the Krupp manufacturing company. They are primarily known for manufacturing weapons for Germany in World War II, but also armed virtually every nation in the years preceding World War I and prior. Much to my surprise, they also manufactured the majority of the world's rail wheels during the 1800s. Really the book deserves two and a half stars. I realize that the Krupp family is German, ...more
Cedar Bristol
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fascinating piece of industrial, military and German history. There's a lot more to steel than I knew before I read this. There is also a lot of interesting complexity to the relationship between military institutions and technological progress.

I also didn't know what an underdog Prussia was prior to 1870. It's easy to forget that France was once the land warfare superpower of the world who the rest of the developed world had to combine to beat in 1815.

And Manchester's writing manages to weav
Tim Weakley
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
On sheer size alone respect must be paid to this history of one the longest lasting private companies in the world. Manchester produced a monumental work detailing the high points of over three hundred years of arms and material production.

As a readable work it is a little dry in spots unless you have a real love of business proceedings. For me he loses his linear progression in the last third of the book, and the story becomes a constant retelling of the same stories surrounding the Nazi regim
Jennifer Niland
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Contrary to many other reviewers, I like the fact that Manchester has a point of view about figures like the Krupp family. The book is endlessly fascinating and provides a unique perspective of the last 3 centuries of Germany's development as a nation and an industrial power. As a business owner, I was especially struck but what I consider to be the abuse of power by the Krupp dynasty, specifically the WWII generation. The use of slave labor is always wrong and is espec ...more
Jerome Newberry
May 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history
I liked this book so much I had to read it again 10 years later. It clearly shows how military industry can influence government. We Americans have the same problem in this country, as was shown during the Vietnam war and again with the Iraq war. Billions of dollars go to industry while the common man dies and pays his taxes.
If you liked this book you may also want to read THE COLDEST WINTER,
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best historical account of a dynamic and fascinating dynasty that I've ever read. Don't let it's length scare you. It's very readable, powerful and insightful. I didn't want to put it down! I've recommended it often to the delight of others and it's on my re-read list! It deserves 6 stars.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This explains how Germany became such an aggressive state in the first place, and how they were able to rearm between the world wars. It follows one family's dynasty as the chief arms manufacturer and industrialist of the country for over 300 years. Amazingly detailed and researched. Can be dense reading, and at 1,000+ pages, requires a bit of investment.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I think of this book as a testimony to Manchester's excellent writing style. Why else whould I have waded thru almost a thousand pages on one German family dynasty. I read this book sometime in the 1980s.
Erik Graff
Apr 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: capitalists
Recommended to Erik by: no one
This history of the Krupp family and their enterprises appears to be exhaustive, too exhaustive. I found myself getting bored with the thing. As is said, a capitalist would manufacture and sell the ropes used to hang capitalists if there was a margin in it.
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
You'd think the subject matter would be very dull. But Manchester really brought the family's history to life. And the effects of running an important war-related business under hitler were fascinating.
Erik Riker-Coleman
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I started reading this a long time back and kind of mired down midway through and never finished it. It's quite informative about the origins of the Krupp family and their firm, and sometimes entertaining to read for the sheer intensity of Manchester's lingering anti-Germanism--it suggests how much more raw the wounds of the Nazi era could be in the 60s. Manchester does a great job of detailing the deep connection of Krupp with the Nazi state, and particularly the firm's brutal exploitation of s ...more
Michael Laflamme
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully detailed book, not merely about the Krupp dynasty, but about internal German society from the mid 1800's. In the end, this becomes the story of a family's obsessions. Sadly, this is not fiction. This family repeatedly sold its soul for wealth and power, and no compromise was ever too awkward or bizarre. The far larger story here is about human nature and the siren song of wealth as it inexorably enslaves an entire family over generations. Sobering and tragic.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Perhaps a bit totemic and overly dense at times, Manchester's examination of this endlessly powerful German family confirms Tolstoy's quote about kings being the slaves of history before all else. Solid research. Insightful, if more than a bit episodic and hackneyed....
Claire Ohlsson Geheb
Long, detailed and fascinating. This is worth a read if you love history and need to understand how the arms industry was built in Germany. Therefore learning about the motivations and ambitions of the Krupp family and their impact on the world.
Steve Scanlan
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a vile family.
Loren Shultz
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Lots of good info, but a tough read. Many quotes in German or French or whatever, but sometimes not translated.
Andrew Garrie
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Extremely well written and researched. Excellent portrayal of one of the most influential families in the history of the world.
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William Raymond Manchester was an American author and biographer, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into 20 languages.He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.