cover image The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel

Kati Marton. Simon and Schuster, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9262-3

Journalist Marton (True Believer) largely succeeds in this meticulous and even-handed biography at her stated goal of creating “a human rather than a political portrait” of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Marton ascribes Merkel’s “supreme public reticence” to her youth as a Lutheran pastor’s daughter in “atheist East Germany,” where her career as a physicist was “a safe outlet for her inquiring mind.” After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Merkel made a swift ascent through the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to become “the most prominent East German” in Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Cabinet. When Kohl was tainted by a financial scandal in 1998, Merkel was one of the first members of the CDU to publicly denounce him, and assumed leadership of the party in 2000. Marton credits Merkel with being a “forceful listener” who is “hungry to understand how things work and what motivates people,” but also notes that her “sluggish” and “methodical” response prolonged the 2008 financial crisis. Incisive analyses of Merkel’s relationships with other world leaders, including Vladimir Putin, shed light on her geopolitical views and tactics, though her private motivations remain somewhat mysterious. Still, this is a lucid and accessible introduction to “the most powerful woman in the world.” Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Oct.)