Education: University of Chicago, Ph.D. (history), 1976.
Author and historian. University of California, Berkeley, administrative analyst, 1986—.
(With Francine Haber and Kenneth R. Fuller) Robert S. Roeschlaub: Architect of the Emerging West, 1843-1923, Colorado Historical Society (Denver, CO), 1988.
(Editor) From the Berlin Museum to the Berlin Wall: Essays on the Cultural and Political History of Modern Germany, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1996.
(Editor with Theodore S. Hamerow) International Politics and German History: The Past Informs the Present, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1997.
David Wetzel received his doctorate in history in 1976, at about the time funding of the humanities decreased in favor of technical fields. Wetzel took a full-time administrative position at the University of California, Berkeley, but has not abandoned his academic interests. He has written a number of volumes, beginning with The Crimean War: A Diplomatic History. Being multilingual in French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish, as well as English, Wetzel has been able to fully explore primary source documents in his research. For The Crimean War, he drew on archives and private papers in Britain, Austria, and France. Believing that diplomacy during the war can be studied by itself, without constant reference to actions on the battlefield, he writes about campaigns only when they impact ministerial decision making. In the early chapters, Wetzel elaborates on the various elements that brought on the war. Choice's G. H. Davis wrote that "Wetzel's coverage of French foreign minister Drouyn de Lhuys and his Austrian counterpart, Count Buol, is especially strong." Slavonic and East European Review contributor D. W. Spring said Wetzel "avoids the minutiae of diplomacy which bedevil clarity of exposition in this genre, yet he reveals the substance of the various phases of negotiations with a sure grasp of their complexity."
Wetzel is coauthor with Francine Haber and Kenneth R. Fuller of Robert S. Roeschlaub: Architect of the Emerging West, 1843-1923. Roeschlaub was born in Germany and came to the United States as an infant, and his educated parents provided an atmosphere of liberalism, literature, music, and the arts in their Quincy, Illinois, home. Roeschlaub rose to the rank of captain in the Eighty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry and was awarded several medals of honor. He then studied architecture, and in 1873, he moved his family to Denver, where he became the state's first licensed architect. His notable buildings include approximately fifty schools he designed for Denver and the surrounding area, and his love of the Rocky Mountains is reflected in the rough-cut stone he used in his designs. A good example of this style can be seen in the Central City Opera House, built in 1878. Harold Kirker wrote in Pacific Historical Review that "this finely researched and attractively produced monograph …will interest readers of this journal less as biography or architectural history than as a chronicle of the growth of a city and a profession on the American frontier in the initial period of maturation." Western Historical Quarterly's Carroll Van West called Robert S. Roeschlaub "a book sure to be enjoyed not only by Denver architects, historians, and preservationists, but by all scholars interested in the architectural development of the American West."
With From the Berlin Museum to the Berlin Wall: Essays on the Cultural and Political History of Modern Germany, Wetzel honors German history scholar Gordon Craig. The book includes essays by such scholars as Henry Ashby Turner, Diethelm Prowe, Theodore S. Hamerow and Fritz Stern. Wetzel's own contributions include an essay about the breach of the Berlin Wall and another on Bismarck and South Germany.
Wetzel and Hamerow, an emeritus historian at the University of Wisconsin, edited International Politics and German History: The Past Informs the Present, and Wetzel and Prowe provide the introductory chapter which addresses eighteenth-to twentieth-century Europe and Germany's role therein. Richard L. Merritt wrote in Perspectives on Political Science that Paul W. Schroeder's "Does the History of International Politics Go Anywhere?" is "the book's centerpiece." Other chapters include Paul Gordon Lauren's "The Diplomatic Revolution of Our Time," David E. Barclay's "Monarchy, Court, and Society in Constitutional Prussia," Hermann-Josef Rupieper's "Der Bund für Burgerrecht: Transnational Relations and the Problem of Democratization in West Germany, 1949-1954," and Gaines Post, Jr.'s "Reflections on the German Question." Merritt maintained that "historians and advanced graduate students will welcome this book," which he described as "less a tightly spun argument than a richly textured tapestry of knowledge and thinking."
Wetzel's A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III, and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War is the first work in English on the subject in nearly four decades. Wetzel notes that neither Otto von Bismarck nor Napoleon III were strongly in favor of war and explains how it could have been avoided, had not a variety of lesser players been so impassioned as the various European powers vied for position. Booklist's Allen Weakland called the volume a "truly important work in its refocusing of attention on a diplomatic struggle that has long been ignored."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1986, Norman Rich, review of The Crimean War: A Diplomatic History, p. 909.
Booklist, October 15, 2001, Allen Weakland, review of A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III, and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War, p. 379.
Choice, July-August, 1986, G. H. Davis, review of The Crimean War, pp. 1725-1726.
English Historical Review, January, 1989, F. R. Bridge, review of The Crimean War, p. 230.
German Studies Review, October, 2000, Matthias Zimmer, review of International Politics and German History: The Past Informs the Present, p. 637.
Journal of Military History, April, 2002, Terry Strieter, review of A Duel of Giants, p. 578.
Pacific Historical Review, February, 1991, Harold Kirker, review of Robert S. Roeschlaub: Architect of the Emerging West, 1843-1923, pp. 106-107.
Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1998, Richard L. Merritt, review of International Politics and German History, p. 173.
Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2001, review of A Duel of Giants, p. 51.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 1997, review of From the Berlin Museum to the Berlin Wall: Essays on the Cultural and Political History of Modern Germany, p. 16; February, 1998, review of International Politics and German History, p. 20.
Slavonic and East European Review, July, 1987, D. W. Spring, review of The Crimean War, pp. 471-472.
Western Historical Quarterly, November, 1989, Carroll Van West, review of Robert S. Roeschlaub, p. 460.
H-Net Reviews,http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/ (January 17, 2002), Peter Fritzsche, review of From the Berlin Museum to the Berlin Wall: Essays on the Cultural and Political History of Modern Germany. *