Perras, Arne

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Perras, Arne

PERSONAL:

Male.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist. Suddeutsche Zeitung, editor in the foreign division.

WRITINGS:

Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918: A Political Biography, Clarendon Press (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:

Arne Perras is a journalist. He acts as the editor in the foreign division of Suddeutsche Zeitung. His primary areas of journalistic coverage include sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Perras published his first book, Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918: A Political Biography, in 2004. Carl Peters is a figure closely associated with German imperialism and its colonial expansion. Peters used nationalism as a means to gain support and power, raising his own status in society. He aided in securing German East Africa. However, his colonial success was also his downfall after a personal scandal caused a backlash against colonialism and his disgraced exit from imperial service.

The biography itself shows that Peters was first and foremost a politician, using politics to advance in his career. Perras also takes aim at scholarship on German imperialism through Peters's life, by showing that German businessmen, who were not all that supportive of his ventures from a business or economic viewpoint, eventually did support him as a personal means to promote their own nationalist perspective among the people. Perras criticizes Peters for exploiting German nationalist sentiment, something which would be problematic for future German governments. Perras points out that Peters was talented at making connections to influential individuals but does not blame him for using his personal politics to reject an elitist controlling of society and the German state. Perras concludes that Peters's politics, leading to German imperialism, were simply a way for him to gain greater support domestically through nationalism.

Woodruff D. Smith, writing in the Historian, noted that the author's "analysis of nationalism is rather superficial, relying on references to a few studies" out of many academic choices. Smith pointed out that "this weakness is more than counterbalanced, however, by the breadth of sources consulted, the care with which they are examined, and the good sense with which they are employed." Smith concluded by calling Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918 "the best biography of Peters" ever published and for the foreseeable future. Richard V. Pierard, writing in History: Review of New Books, observed that Perras "ably filled the gap" on published works about Peters. Pierard summarized that "this eminently readable book significantly enhances our understanding of German overseas expansion prior to World War I. Especially valuable is … Perras's interaction with the existing scholarly literature and his correction of interpretive misunderstandings and outright errors. Academic libraries will certainly want to add this volume to their collections."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, December 1, 2005, Richard A. Voeltz, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918: A Political Biography, p. 1617.

English Historical Review, June 1, 2006, Geoff Eley, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 867.

European History Quarterly, January 1, 2006, Boris Barth, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 148.

German Studies Review, February 1, 2006, Daniel J. Walther, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 172.

Historian, spring, 2006, Woodruff D. Smith, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 195.

History: Review of New Books, summer, 2005, Richard V. Pierard, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 154.

Journal of Modern History, June 1, 2006, Lora Wildenthal, review of Carl Peters and German Imperialism, 1856-1918, p. 521.