Courtesy Reuters

HISTORIANS and biographers often emphasize the greatness or deficiencies of their subject by a comparison or parallel with others. A statesman is another Bismarck, Cavour or Gladstone -- or the reverse; a general is another Caesar, Napoleon or von Moltke -- or the reverse. Pushed very far, such comparisons may be unfair to both sides. The merits of one are exaggerated and of the other depreciated. Greatness is always the subject of uncritical admiration or of hyper-critical detraction. Success is accepted as the standard of excellence. But the stature in history of Bismarck or the elder von Moltke is not

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