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Angela Merkel: Kornelius's biography fails to tell us what she's thinking 

I've always been intrigued by Angela Merkel. Her success has been stunning, but I could never quite work out what made her tick, other than that we, women of a similar age, started life looking at the world from different sides of the Iron Curtain.

Constantly underestimated, she has frequently proved her critics wrong. An authorised biography, written by a journalist who is said to know her, with an additional chapter written for the English language edition should have been a joy to read. Yet I found the book irritating and frustrating. We learn about her views on the United States, Israel and Europe, but as for domestic policy, she remains undefined. There is predictability in her decision-making processes, but not in the outcome. Her leitmotif is said to be the defence of freedom. 

We know what she does, but what is she thinking? It's suggested that those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know. Even one of her closest political allies, Wolfgang Schäuble, didn't find out that she'd married her long-time partner Thomas Sauer until after the event. Whether it's her flat in Berlin — she doesn't live at the Chancellery — or her weekend cottage, people can come to the door, but they don't go in. A handful of women supports her, but even the most intimate and long-standing friend is still addressed by the formal "Sie" rather than the informal "Du". 

Kornelius never refers to personal conversations or meetings and seems to rely on third-party sources. Strange, given that the book claims to be the authorised biography; authorised by whom, one wonders? 

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palau
November 21st, 2013
6:11 PM
@sdgoh I don't know who coined the phrase, but "England is a civilization, and Germany is a culture" is asomewhat mor popular quote.

sd gohAnonymous
November 5th, 2013
1:11 AM
I once heard my German friend tell a Britisher this:"We Germans have a civilization, while you only have traditions." Perhaps,that remark sums up the predicament of Anglo-German relations.

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