Cover Image: The Chancellor

The Chancellor

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I don't often read biographies, but when I heard about The Chancellor by Kati Marton, I knew it was a must-read. I've long admired Angela Merkel without really knowing very much about her, but this book provided even more reasons for me to admire her as a moral, thinking, cautious, self-aware leader and person. The author tells the story of Merkel's childhood in East Germany, earning a PhD in quantum chemistry, and eventually entering politics. The pathway to her current position as chancellor of Germany is so different from the usual route to the presidency in the United States, and her demeanor and effectiveness is also quite different from many of our US presidents. Merkel did not speak with the author for this book because she is famously private, but Marton provides us with some insight into Merkel through recounting her "remarkable odyssey". Her leadership of Germany through four terms has helped the country phase out nuclear energy, deal with the 2015 refugee crisis, and steer Germany through the coronavirus pandemic, all while doing her own grocery shopping. Angela Merkel is the first female German chancellor, the first to grow up in a socialist economy, the first to be trained as a scientist, and I think one of the best at keeping her own ego out of her leadership. Even though she has resigned and received her official dismissal certificate from the post of chancellor after 16 years, she will still lead a caretaker government until her successor is sworn in. I suspect her care will be missed.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
This biography of Angela Merkel was fascinating. It managed to stay informative while remaining clear and easily understood. It follows Merkel’s life from her childhood behind the Iron Curtain to present day during her final year as chancellor of Germany. 
I enjoyed learning about the personal side of Merkel, which itself seems like an achievement in documenting, given she’s such an intensely private person. 
This biography also does an incredible job of explaining the trajectory of Merkel’s professional life, shaped by so many history-making events of the past few decades. 
I’d recommend this to any reader who not only enjoys biographies, but also history and politics. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for access to this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this biography of Angela Merkel, a leader who keeps her private life very private. In writing this biography, Kati Marton had unprecedented access to the chancellor and her inner circle. 

Marton did an excellent job balancing the public and the private lives of Merkel and showing how her upbringing in the East as a pastor's daughter deeply affected her and her beliefs. As a woman in STEM, I loved learning about her work as a physicist. Her rise to power was also well covered here, as well as her long staying power in coalition after coalition over her 16 years as chancellor. There was plenty of information about Merkel's relationships with other world leaders - the Obama section is a highlight. Marton dissected Merkel's more controversial decisions - the decision to accept Syrian migrants - as well as the aftermath and rise of the far-right AfD.

I liked that Marton emphasized how indefatigable Merkel was as chancellor - I'm in my early 30s, and I can't imagine keeping up with the schedule she had at twice my age! I already admired Angela Merkel, and this book showed me how strong and inspiring a leader she was. If you're looking for a nonfiction read or are interested in politics, I highly recommend this engaging biography.

Best fun fact: Merkel still does her own grocery shopping! At the beginning of COVID, she was seen in the grocery store with a few bottles of wine and some toilet paper - I'm sure we all can relate.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I started The Chancellor knowing almost nothing about Merkel and really appreciated how approachable and informative Kati Marton made the book. Marton was excellent at bringing the reader along as she discusses complex histories, politics, and relationships. It is always easy to ignore the leaders who aren't directly representing us, but as the world grows more interconnected I think it's important that we continue reading books about our world leaders, especially female leaders. 

5/5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
“A woman in power has more urgent business to attend to than her ego.”

Prior to reading the biography, I knew of the remarkable work Angela Merkel has done during her time in office. And of course, during this biography, I was blown away by the change she has applied to the EU. But mostly, I was fascinated by Mrs. Merkel's charisma. It was interesting to learn of the Chancellor's childhood and upbringing behind the wall. Her life before the fall of the Wall. It explains Mrs. Merkel's fight for the refugees' rights. And her war with the world's biggest dictator - Putin. The book covered her partnership with Xi Jinping, Obama, and Emmanuel Macron. I was impressed with the way the Chancellor has handled the situation with China and the deal that was signed at the end of 2020. And don't get me started with the global pandemic and the way Mrs. Merkel's strategy resulted in the lowest GDP drop in the world.

Being the Chancellor of Germany is not an easy task. Even over 75 years after the horrors of WWII, people skeptically look at Germany and its power over the UN. Mrs. Merkel has been taking steps to make amends with the Jewish society and gain their trust and respect. Her outlook on human rights and equality is impeccable. Her strategies are outstanding, well thought thru and prepared. This is a world leader who is not afraid to face the challenges of the political world. During her years in the office, Germany's economy has improved, and the world is "speaking German" now. When the Chancellor has inherited the office, she had big goals to achieve, and she has reached it all and more. She was able to put Germany back on the map with all its glory.

Angel Merkel is an inspiring role model. This was my first biography about Mrs. Merkel, and I absolutely enjoyed it. This is an easy read, it was not written in chronological order, instead, each chapter highlighted a specific subject of the Chancellor's leadership period.
Was this review helpful?
Angela Merkel’s biography is so much more than that. Besides being able to get a glimpse at her very private life and learn more about what made her as successful as she was, this book is also a vivid, impactful, and insightful summary of our global history over the last decades.

Kati Marton starts out with setting the stage of Angela Merkel’s foundation, explaining the time after ww2 and how those living in East Germany dealt with the Communist regime. With Angela’s ascend into politics, we learn more about the person herself, her strengths and ambitions. And in the last part, with Angela Merkel being elected chancellor of Germany in 2005, we receive a great view into the various aspects of her leadership during the global events that she maneuvered with patience and strength - everything from the 2008 housing crisis to the Syrien refugees, and Covid (and a lot of events in between). While the focus is on Angela Merkel’s leadership, Kati …. managed to include a great summary of the world’s events.

Throughout the book Kati Marton provides an amazingly accurate glimpse into the life of Germans, what it means to grow up in a country that constantly has to deal with their past and doesn’t shove it aside to forget it. Because of Kati’s ability to explain German’s history in such a way, she was able to outline how Angela Merkel was shaped and what that meant do how she ruled the way she did. 

As someone who grew up in Germany, I always had a hard time explaining what it meant to not be proud of your country and why certain customs in the US, the country I am living in now, are still so foreign to me. I was truly moved, especially by the chapters talking about East Germany and how Germany has evolved since then.

If it wouldn’t have been for NetGalley, I might not have found out about this book. I’m so grateful for them and Simon & Schuster for approving me for an early access copy. This book deeply impressed me and I will definitely read it again.

Note: I read an early copy that didn’t go through all the edits yet. My version still had some misspellings of some of the German words used. I hope it was fixed in the final version. (If not, Simon & Schuster, feel free to reach out and I’m happy to help ;) )
Was this review helpful?
This is a fascinating and highly readable biography of a remarkable leader. It's fair, pointing out flaws and missteps, but overall, Angela Merkel is an admirable person who served Germany, Europe, and the world at large during her 16 years as chancellor. I learned so much reading this, not only about Merkel but about other world leaders, history, and politics. This is definitely worth reading!
Was this review helpful?
I have always admired Angela Merkel, so when given the opportunity to review a biography at the end of her final term as chancellor, I was anxious to read it.  It gives a very good insight into her early years in East Germany, and shows how they influenced her actions as chancellor.  The author also makes many comparisons of Merkel with the male demagogues so common today, leaving her to shine brightly as a more rational and superior leader.  And even more importantly, the biography gives a unique perspective on world events--one that is not often seen in US media.  The author clearly has been given access to people who know Merkel best, and thus I trust that this is an authentic biography.  It's detailed enough for one to get the full picture, yet mostly not so detailed that it becomes boring.  This ought to be required reading for all people, young and old, but especially the young.  They could draw a lot of inspiration from Merkel's outlook on politics.
Was this review helpful?
Angela Merkel was Germanys chancellor for 6 years, before I moved to the US. For six years she lead the country I called home. I know not everyone was a fan of her, but I think she brought something to the table that was not common at the time: being a woman in charge. She will be missed for her honesty, clarity and wisdom.

This biography was well written and talked about things I didn’t know about Frau Merkel.

Very interesting and informative. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I have always admired Angela Merkel, but I didn't know much about her. This book talks about why she is such a strong leader and can go toe to toe with any leader. I never knew she came from East Berlin, but I did know she was a scientist, and I'm glad that her background has made her great leader who can operate rationally and yet be empathetic towards others.
The book is very easy to read and has loads of information about Angela Merkel that is objective and yet shows her human side. I like that she pushed the limits while in East Germany unfortunately it stop her from having the career she wanted.
I feel very fortunate that I stumbled across this book and was able to explore Angela Merkel's life.  

I want to Thank Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this amazing book about an amazing woman.
Was this review helpful?
The story of Angela Merkel is a timely story as her time as chancellor of Germany is coming to an end. Kati Marton digs deep and detailed to show how significant Ms. Merkel has been to the development of the European community. She has served as chancellor alongside four American presidents and another two before becoming chancellor. She has served as a strong ally to the United States and the European Union and has used a strong understanding of Vladimir Putin to be the most forefront figure to deal with him. She has a brought a sense of logic but compassion to her sixteen year term and has avoided placing Germany in a feared position in the international community. Instead Germany stands a strong leader for the world. There are definitely large shoes to fill here.
Was this review helpful?
As German chancellor Angela Merkel’s 16 years in office come to an end (today was election day!) we’re left knowing surprisingly little about the woman who was “a complete outsider—a research chemist and pastor’s daughter raised in Soviet-controlled East Germany—who rose to become the unofficial leader of the West.”

In the US, this kind of class-breaking might not be as shocking, but societal structure tends to be a bit more rigid in Germany and other European countries. Especially when the East of the country still lags behind the West in so many measurable objectives.

This was outstanding. I don’t know why but I didn’t expect it to be so well written – maybe because I’m not a big biography reader and they usually have way too much contextual filler for me. But this was perfectly done – Marton breaks down complex politics, culture, and international relations so well that I better understood things I thought I already knew. (Marton’s background is Hungarian, and she knows exactly when to insert a telling, emphasizing personal anecdote about Iron Curtain history and culture without making someone else’s story all about her — other authors, take note.)

Merkel is such a fascinating figure, still enigmatic despite being in power for so long and having accomplished so much, and for being so central on the world stage during this time. She’s a former East German who helped turn a country responsible for the 20th century’s worst atrocities into the world’s moral center. And she helped bridge divides between east and west in her own land while she was at it. I respected and admired her for so much already but there’s even more to understand about her accomplishments, her mindset, and her decision making.

Marton also examines her missteps, lest this seem like propaganda or only gushing praise. But as Angela herself wants to be remembered: “She tried.” Even if you don’t agree with every decision or political policy, I found this to be a fascinating glimpse at a politician whose role will probably be more valued by history than it perhaps was in the moment.

Because of her intense desire for privacy she didn’t really “cooperate” per se, but she allowed Marton to observe her at work and interview aides, associates, and even friends. The result is an extraordinarily formed portrait, drawing on information about her childhood and what she’s said herself in speeches or to friends, set against Marton’s clear analysis of how life behind the Wall shaped her thinking, policies, and worldview. It’s so insightful and truly, there’s not a dull page, which surprised me.

Apparently Merkel also does a hilarious Putin impression (and they speak German together and are on du terms!). This is full of such surprising and fun tidbits, it is such a delight.
Was this review helpful?
Kati Marton’s “The Chancellor” is a well-written, well-researched study of the life and leadership of Angela Merkel, not only Germany’s first woman chancellor but one of its longest-serving chancellors and the first to have come from communist East Germany. I enjoyed it and believe I learned a great deal.

Marton begins with an examination of Merkel’s early life as the daughter of a Lutheran minister sent to a parish in Stasi-controlled, surveillance-obsessed East Germany, her education (culminating in a doctorate) and work as a research chemist, and then, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, her transition into German politics and her rise to chancellor. It goes on to describe the various challenges she faced including the global recession, the Middle Eastern refugee crisis, and the rise of populism and autocracy; as well as her relationships with various world leaders including three American presidents and Vladimir Putin.

Along the way, we are given a very clear picture of Merkel herself, her modesty, her devotion to service and “getting the job done,” her rationality and reliance on facts, her energy and capacity for hard work, her persistence and persuasiveness as a negotiator, and the respect and high regard she has earned from other world leaders.  It’s clear that Ms. Marton is a Merkel fan.  Nevertheless, she does spend time on the weaknesses she perceives in the chancellor, most notably Merkel’s uber-rationality, her lack of charisma and/or great talent for oratory, and her sometimes “tin ear” when it comes to political expedience.  But even these so-called weaknesses point to a leader who is much more about substance than style and cares ten times more about getting the right things done than about who gets the credit.

My one criticism is that Ms. Marton gets a little “preachy” when it comes to her own politics. Her beliefs in progressivism, globalism, and feminism are obvious, as is her opinion that many male leaders cannot check their egos at the door and that women are better suited to world leadership than men.  Her disdain for nationalism, authoritarianism, and Donald Trump is also crystal clear. My purpose here is not to argue against or criticize those beliefs. But I wonder if her willingness to reveal them undermines the objectivity and authority many biographers strive for.

Nevertheless, I thought “The Chancellor” was well worth the time.
Was this review helpful?
I have found this biography of former chancellor Angela Merkel to be both entertaining and informative.  I’m not sure why I’m so captured by her life, but I’m very glad I signed up for this book.

The details are remarkable, and inspirational to me.  Clearly the author had to fill the blanks to capture Merkel in certain times and lights.  She does it with skill and faithfulness to the larger picture.  I come away from this book still liking and respecting Angela Merkel.  That hasn’t been true of every biography I’ve read.

We need more biographies of this caliber about women of influence.  I would definitely read other books by this author.
Was this review helpful?
AMAZING! I don't know what else to say about this book. I was engrossed in it and the incredible woman that Angela is. She is so inspiring and it was fascinating to read about her ascent into the highest political office in Germany, no less by an East German, a scientist, and a woman.
Was this review helpful?
I appreciate the publisher allowing me to read this book. This book was a revelation I had no idea the Chancellor was such an amazing woman, highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
This book provided a fascinating look at German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was very engaging and I enjoyed learning about Chancellor Merkel's family history, growing up in East Germany and its impact on her, and her entrance into politics and political journey. It also touched on her relationship with other foreign leaders and how she strategically engaged and communicated with them in an individualized way. Through reading this book, I have a better understanding of how she has been successful in navigating compromises to further Germany's authority and leadership in the EU and world.
Was this review helpful?
The Chancellor by Kati Marton is an excellent biography that gives the reader a glimpse into the fascinating and trailblazing Angela Merkel. I loved it!

I have always been intrigued and drawn to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, so I was so excited to be able to pick up this biography so that I could learn more about her past, her personality, and her values. Ms. Marton does an excellent job of investigating, interviewing, and presenting all of these aspects and so much more within this book. Her sources are credible and the way she presents her subject matter is effortless and easy to read.

 I was able to learn so much more about what had made and molded her into the impressive woman and political leader that she has become, and I highly recommend this biography for anyone that wants to learn more about this amazing, complex, and fascinating figure.

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Simon & Schuster for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
Was this review helpful?
Whenever I read a political biography, I expect to skim parts of it, because so much of politics is the detailed and tedious stuff of lawmaking and diplomacy. It is important but for the casual reader, like me, it's boring. I did not skim any of this biography of Angela Merkel. It was interesting and readable from beginning to end and I got a real sense of what kind of person and politician Merkel is. I was surprised to learn that she was born in West Germany, but her father, a Lutheran minister, took an assignment in East Germany when Angela was a toddler and they remained there until the Wall came down. Kati Marton wrote the book with access to Merkel's aides and acquaintances, but not to Merkel or her husband. I was especially interested in how Merkel, as a woman, made herself heard among the men who controlled politics in Germany when she was arriving on the scene. Her experiences dealing with condescending and vindictive opponents (and sometimes allies) helped her develop the skills she would need to deal with Putin and Trump. Really fascinating look at one of the more successful world leaders in recent times. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a digital review copy.
Was this review helpful?