Daniel Steuer

Carl Schmitt: A Biography by Reinhard Mehring

Carl Schmitt: A Biography by Reinhard Mehring

Reinhard Mehring’s Carl Schmitt: A Biography, dutifully translated by Daniel Steuer, is a difficult book for two reasons. At well over 500 pages, with complex jargon and a healthy dose of German-language legalese, it is an exceptionally dense biography by necessity; to truly appreciate Schmitt, the man and one of the leading legal minds of the Third Reich, understanding his juridic and philosophical development is a prerequisite for virtually all else. While his life’s broad personal and familial outlines are thoroughly rendered in the text, it is his ideas, his arguments, his contributions to Nazism which appropriately receive primary attention. Second, and related to the focus on Schmitt’s evolving political thought, this book is difficult for the reading experience it provides—a brilliant man’s steady descent from the traditions of realist international relations theories and debates over the role of the state toward justifying and rationalizing total state capacity for domination of civic life.

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