Although Imperial Germany was begun before the United States entered World War I, little in the book however relates to that particular conflict. Rather, this is in large part a study of the divergencies in cultural development between the English-speaking peoples and the German-speaking peoples, and of the consequences this produced in economic and social spheres. Suppressed by war censors, Imperial Germany was again released after the war, and has assumed a place as a major contribution to economics and sociology alike.
The comments on the book have scarcely been altered by time. Charles A. Beard noted that "Veblen wrote for the centuries, not for the days, and his Imperial Germany ranks with his immortal Theory of Business Enterprise." Wesley C. Mitchell, reflecting on the book during World War II, wrote that "the natural causes that made Imperial Germany efficient are still at work under the Nazi regime, and the forecast that proved sound once may do so again." Lewis Mumford called Imperial Germany "still the best picture of the residual barbarisms in German civilization; the soil out of which Nazism grew."
This new edition is graced with a brilliant and insightful opening essay that is at once a commentary on Veblen's volume, and a statement of the historic status of the German economy and society. Written by Otto G. Mayer, director in a leading German "Think Tank," HWWA-Institut fur Wirtschaftsforschung-Hamburg, editor of Intereconomics, a journal issued in English, and an author of major policy statements on economic and social issues, the new opening statement underscores the view of those who came before, that Veblen's book is "a treasure chest of knowledge."