This is the first major biography of Max Weber to appear in more than 80 years. Radkau was able to make use of previously unavailable source material, including the extensive correspondence of Max Weber and that of his wife, Marianne Weber.
Max Weber (1864-1920) is recognized throughout the world as the most important classic thinker in the social sciences - there is simply no one in the history of the social sciences who has been more influential. The affinity between capitalism and protestantism, the religious origins of the Western world, the force of charisma in religion as well as in politics, the all-embracing process of rationalization and the bureaucratic price of progress, the role of legitimacy and of violence as offsprings of leadership, the 'disenchantment' of the modern world together with the never-ending power of religion, the antagonistic relation between intellectualism and eroticism: all these are key concepts which attest to the enduring fascination of Weber's thinking. The tremendous influence exerted by Max Weber was due not only to the power of his ideas but also to the fact that behind his theories one perceived a man with a marked character and a tragic destiny. However, for nearly 80 years, our understanding of the life of Max Weber was dominated by the biography published in 1926 by his widow, Marianne Weber. The lack of a great Weber biography was one of the strangest and most glaring gaps in the literature of the social sciences. For various reasons the task was difficult; time and again, attempts to write a new biography of Max Weber ended in failure. When Joachim Radkau's biography appeared in Germany in 2005 it caused a sensation. Based on an abundance of previously unknown sources and richly embedded in the German history of the time, this is the first fully comprehensive biography of Max Weber ever to appear. Radkau brings out, in a way that no one has ever done before, the intimate interrelations between Weber's thought and his life experience. He presents detailed revelations about the great enigmas of Weber's life: his suffering and erotic experiences, his fears and his desires, his creative power and his methods of work as well as his religious experience and his relation to nature and to death. By understanding the great drama of his life, we discover a new Max Weber, until now unknown in many respects, and, at the same time, we gain a new appreciation of his work. Joachim Radkau, born in 1943, is Professor of Modern History at the Bielefeld University, Germany. His interest in Max Weber dates back nearly forty years when he worked together with the German-American historian George W. F. Hallgarten (Washington), a refugee who left Germany in 1933 and who, as a student, listened to Weber's last lecture in summer 1920. Radkau's main works include Die deutsche Emigration in den USA (1971); Deutsche Industrie und Politik (together with G. W. F. Hallgarten, 1974), Aufstieg und Krise der deutschen Atomwirtschaft (1983), Technik in Deutschland (1989), Das Zeitalter der Nervositat (1998), Natur und Macht: Eine Weltgeschichte der Umwelt (2000).
"No serious sociologist can be without a copy of this heavy tome. Artfully translated by Patrick Camiller, the study is hypnotic reading, beautifully written, lively, stimulating, and wonderfully well organized. No review could do justice to the plethora of new insights into Weber that emerge in this study, which will keep specialists happy in controversy for years to come." Canadian Journal of Sociology "This absorbing and meticulously researched biography ... recounts a complex, moving story." Book of the week in the Times Higher Education "Radkau's exceptional book brings out the relations between Weber's thought and his life experience. There are sensational revelations about Weber's suffering and eroticism, his fears and desires, and his great creative power." Lancashire Evening Post "The reader is in for an exciting time, but also an agreeable one, since Radkau has an easy, relaxed style, and has been fluently and serviceably translated." Times Literary Supplement "Radkau's biography takes great advantage of the archive documentation and of the family correspondence made available by Guenther Roth's enormous 2001 effort." The Philosophers' Magazine "Joachim Radkau is the first biographer to bring the great social thinker Max Weber to life. He reveals what others tried to conceal: the emotional turmoil suffered by the champion of rationality." Lord Dahrendorf "In this remarkable and engaging study, Joachim Radkau investigates the life, loves, and intellectual passions of one of the early twentieth century's most engaging thinkers. Capturing both the tumultuous times and the singular accomplishments of Max Weber, the author has written a spirited and penetrating account of the creative life that is perhaps unrivaled in its provocative originality. Based on impeccable documentation, the result is a striking portrait of the eros of the intellect, of scientific work in relation to personality. Radkau's impressive achievement is certain to provoke a passionate response of its own." Lawrence A. Scaff, Wayne State University "A minor social-scientific scoop ... By any standards, this is an important work." Peter Thomas, New Left Review "Despite the immense Weber industry, until now we had no biographical account of this quality." Hans Joas, Merkur "An amazing, breath-taking book." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung "A brilliant achievement." Suddeutsche Zeitung "I read every sentence of Radkau's Weber ... A must-read." Michael Greven, Neue Politische Literatur
About Joachim Radkau
Joachim Radkau, born in 1943, is Professor of Modern History at the Bielefeld University, Germany. His interest in Max Weber dates back nearly forty years when he worked together with the German-American historian George W. F. Hallgarten (Washington), a refugee who left Germany in 1933 and who, as a student, listened to Weber's last lecture in summer 1920. Radkau's main works include Die deutsche Emigration in den USA (1971); Deutsche Industrie und Politik (together with G. W. F. Hallgarten, 1974), Aufstieg und Krise der deutschen Atomwirtschaft (1983), Technik in Deutschland (1989), Das Zeitalter der Nervositat (1998), Natur und Macht: Eine Weltgeschichte der Umwelt (2000).
Table of Contents
CONTENTS Abbreviations Preface to the English Edition I. The Violation of Nature (1) Great Mother and Harsh Nature: A Precocious Youth on the Margins of Berlin (2) Max and Minimax. Blood Brothers and Drinking Companions: Surly Fraternity as a Primary Social Experience (3) From Father's Boy to Mother's Boy: A Comradely Marriage and the Day of Judgement for the Father 4) Antaeus, Antiquity and Agrarians: the Unshackling of Creativity through the Earthing of Culture (5) Eruptions from the Ice: Creativity as Natural Catastrophe (6) A 'Gospel of Struggle' and Old German Corpulence. From Lifestyle Crisis through Creativity Crisis to Existential Crisis Notes to Part One II. Nature's Revenge (1) The Demons: The Wildness of Nature and the Riddle of Sexuality (2) 'A Sort of Spiritualistic Construction of the Modern Economy': The Protestant Ethic and the Vain Quest for Redemption through the Spirit (3) South - North - West - East: Changing Attempts at Spiritual Conquest of the World (4) From the 'Essay of Sighs' to 'Psychophysics': the Seven-Year Argument with Naturalism against Naturalism (5) From the Eranos Circle to the 'Erotic Movement': New Roots and New Milieux (6) Max Weber's Love-Hate for the Germans Notes to Part Two III. Salvation and Illumination (1) Value-Free Science, Love and Music (2) Charisma (3) The Naturalness of Community - The Disguised Naturalism in Economy and Society (4) From Deborah's Song of Triumph to the 'Titans of the Holy Curse:' Pacifist Herdsmen, Prophets and Pariahs - the Israelites (5) World War and Flight from the World (6) Major speeches, the great love and death 'Should I fit the image that you once had of me?' Powerplay and the Wrangling over Max Weber's Spirit Notes to Part Three Index
Max Weber: A Biography by Joachim Radkau
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