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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work which balances fact and narrative seamlessly
Fraser has produced another biography full of detail, particularly with regard to the military aspect of Frederick's life. Whilst he makes an attempt to cover all the different facets of a complex ruler, it is really his description of the many battles of the Seven Years War where the narative shines. With a soldier's eye for the details and chaos of battle, combined with...
Published on 23 Feb 2001 by Leon de Jerez

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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prepare for a long and arduous march!
The book tells the life of Frederick the Great in 630 pages. Frankly, the book felt too long. Perhaps it had to do with the use of language, perhaps the book just lacked the life. David Fraser is clearly sympathetic towards Frederick. In his account Frederick is tireless workaholic with Teutonic care fore detail. Still, the man is not all boring. He had wealth of hobbies,...
Published on 27 July 2001 by Heino Viik


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work which balances fact and narrative seamlessly, 23 Feb 2001
This review is from: Frederick the Great (Paperback)
Fraser has produced another biography full of detail, particularly with regard to the military aspect of Frederick's life. Whilst he makes an attempt to cover all the different facets of a complex ruler, it is really his description of the many battles of the Seven Years War where the narative shines. With a soldier's eye for the details and chaos of battle, combined with a fluid narrative, this brings to life the key battles of Frederick's reign, making them eminently approachable to the everyman.
This is ultimately a book that needs to be read in conjunction with Giles MacDonogh's work, in order to understand the wider aspect of Frederick's character, and his key formative experiences. That work also goes some way to establishing the difference between the myth and the reality of Frederick as seen over time. Finally, albeit in only a single chapter, it also succeeds in painting a better picture of the Prussia to which Frederick acended the throne.
For those with real interest in Frederick, it would be necessary to read in more detail about the Seven Years War, in order to gain a better understanding of the political, dynastic and territorial background to that conflict. Fraser's book, whilst touching on these aspects in reasonable detail, is understandably constrained by its subject matter. As a result, much of what appears taken for granted within the work may seem a trifle mystifying to readers unfamiliar with the history of the wider conflict. This also occasionally undermines some of the justification Fraser seeks to give to Frederick's policies. For a book that is clearly seeking to be both admiring and supportive of Frederick's reign, this can sometimes leave the reader in an uncomfortable quandry.
The work also misses an opportunity to examine the underlying tensions within the Prussian royal family, especially with his brothers. Whilst there is some coverage of this, the tensions between the rival courts, and the disagreements on strategy could have been usefully discussed in more detail; especially as there was much discontent within Prussia during the war.
As a stand-alone work, Fraser's biography fails to give a sufficient balance between the military and the non-military aspects of Frederick's reign.As an addition to an historically unsatisfactory shelf of works on its subject, however, it succeeds in explaining Frederick's strategy and tactics, including the reasoning behind much of what occurred.Perhaps its greatest triumph is its readability, and for this reason alone serves to bring a fascinating subject closer to the non-academic community.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Biography!, 5 Oct 2000
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This review is from: Frederick the Great (Hardcover)
Once again, David Fraser, author of 'Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel' has produced another masterful biography. This beautifully told story of Frederick the Great is an outstanding account of a great military leader. You can certainly feel that Fraser has a love for this subject, even when Frederick has committed a terrible blunder the author tends to put the best light on the event as possible. This is one of the best biographies I have read on Frederick the Great and superior to most that have been available to date. In over 700 pages the author tells the story of Frederick, his conflict with his father, his love for the arts, his role as a military commander, as a King, a diplomat, as the creator of the great Prussian Army.
The author's accounts of the battles fought by Frederick are excellent and you can understand why Fraser has such a deep respect for this man. There are many accounts of Frederick leading his troops in the thick of the fighting. Losing horses under him, his aids and Generals being killed alongside him, bullet holes through his clothing. This is a commander who led from the front. Fraser also shows the many mistakes made by Frederick which led to some of the bloodiest and costliest battles in Europe during this period. After reading of some of these battles you wonder why his men followed him into others, but they did and that is what stands out about this man. He actually cared for his troops, his people and his country.
This is a great story and covers all aspects of Frederick. I believe that the maps could have been a bit more detailed but they were good enough to follow the narrative. In all 18 maps were supplied and they assisted the reader in following the battles and movements of Frederick and his armies. The story flowed along smoothly and it was a joy to read, time slipped by effortlessly as Fraser helped you look into the man that was 'Frederick the Great'. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who enjoys a great history book. Well done to the author.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Book About One Of the Most Interesting And Successful Leaders Of The Eighteenth Century., 25 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Frederick the Great (Hardcover)
Frederick the Great by David Fraser is a very good book about the leader who took Prussia from being a middling northern power to being a major European power. It is well-written, interesting and very detailed about an interesting period in European history. The figure who emerges from this book is a brilliant general, an efficient administrator, an intellectual and a skilled musician. However, what it also shows is a very eccentric individual with very troubled relationships with a number of people. Overall this is a very good book about a brilliant military leader who raised his country to the status of a major power by being taken on by most of Europe and holding firm but also shows that Frederick the Great was more than just a military leader but in fact a most interesting man and a brilliant administrator and lawmaker.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prepare for a long and arduous march!, 27 July 2001
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Heino Viik "Heino" (Tallinn, Estonia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The book tells the life of Frederick the Great in 630 pages. Frankly, the book felt too long. Perhaps it had to do with the use of language, perhaps the book just lacked the life. David Fraser is clearly sympathetic towards Frederick. In his account Frederick is tireless workaholic with Teutonic care fore detail. Still, the man is not all boring. He had wealth of hobbies, best known of them are flute playing and philosophy. The author gives good account of his relationship with Voltaire. It seems that one of the Voltaire's objectives was to gather intelligence for the France. Besides other duties Frederick the Great excelled as a general. It is admirable that he shared all the hardships of the marches and lead his soldiers by example. He was probably the last German ruler who could afford to be in war with most of the Europe and come cleanly out of it. A difficult read but worth a try!
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Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great by Sir David Fraser (Hardcover - 24 Feb 2000)
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