In This Review

Helmut Schmidt: Helmsman of Germany
Helmut Schmidt: Helmsman of Germany
By Jonathan Carr
St. Martin's, 1985, 208 pp.

The Bonn correspondent of the Financial Times has written a thin, readable account of Schmidt's extraordinary career in Hamburg and Bonn, in the party and in the government, as defense and economics minister, and for eight years as chancellor. Carr draws on his own experiences, on some reading and occasional private conversations with Schmidt; he pays insufficient attention to Schmidt's own writings. Overcoming repeated setbacks, Schmidt rose to the top by virtue of his intellect, decisiveness, versatile competence and powerful presence. He deepened Ostpolitik and Franco-German cooperation; his acerbic criticism of American policy and leadership sprang from his hope for a well-functioning Atlantic partnership. He was the first German chancellor to win an incontrovertible authority in world politics; now, as a private person, an outsider in his own party, he has remained the most respected figure in German politics and he has a preeminent place as an elder statesman on the world stage. Carr has written a good introduction; a full life of one of the great figures of postwar Europe remains to be done-and would be worth doing.