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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?
Another reviewer has expressed surprise that the author of this history of Prussia from 1600 to 1947 scarcely mentions the First World War; but this is to misunderstand the purpose of the book. This is not a narrative history of Prussia, let alone Germany. It is an attempt to explain some of the contradictions in Prussian history and politics; and why a state which so...
Published on 19 Oct. 2011 by Stephen Cooper

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Prussian Perspective
The most surprising thing about this cool and definitive history of Prussia is the revelation is that it was not from the 18th century a modern Sparta, devoted to the martial arts, but a cultured almost Athenian society with a large and efficient army. Its indeterminate boundaries in the centre of constantly war-torn Europe gave it a feeling of vulnerability and its...
Published 23 months ago by John Michael Hope


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is it about Germany that can produce the Wagner's and the Beethoven's?, 2 Dec. 2012
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Overall this is a welcome addition to the multitude of histories covering central Europe. Clark brings to life an era of Prussian history that is little known aside from the 19th and 20th century Kaisers and this expansive history is a fine piece of research.

The author analyzes the transformation of the Prussian empire from its small Brandenburg origins to the dominant European power it became. The book covers all the major rulers from the Great Elector to Frederick the Great to Kaiser Wilhelm II, and examines in detail the social, political, economic and military issues in the long development of Prussia. What I found particularly refreshing, as predominantly a historian of Prussia only after German Unification in 1872, was the detail of the empire's early years with the Great Elector and his two successors. In this era Prussia gained extensive swaths of territory through alliances and marriages, even as it went through internal and religious strife at home. Clark has clearly done his homework, scouring through dusty archives and examining in multiple languages the papers of the empire, most notably the Political Testaments (a letter of sorts to the next King) of the early Kings. Clark examines the successes of the Prussian military machine, with its strength of the canton regimental system, and the growth of the civil service and judiciary. The political manoeuvrings between Prussia, France, England, Russia, and Austria make for fascinating reading, with Prussia somehow managing to come out ahead more often than not.

At 816 pages this is a large book, and takes a while to get through. Clark's writing style is fairly fluid, rich with detail, but the structure of the book is more thematic as opposed to linear, at least in the early chapters. For example, the clash of Lutheranism and Calvinism in the early empire spanned many decades and three different rulers, with the text jumping back and forth between the years. After a few chapters, it's hard to keep focus on who is ruling and what territory is gained, but it does get better as you get deeper into the book. This however, is a minor fault and may be more based on my writing preferences rather than any fault of the author's.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 25 July 2014
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Very good. Sometimes too academic
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, good value., 21 Dec. 2014
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Mr. R. Sharples (Barnoldswick UK.) - See all my reviews
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A very readable historical book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 11 July 2014
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Very infomitive good to read
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb history of Prussia., 14 Aug. 2007
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Simon Everett (Norwich, UK.) - See all my reviews
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I would recommend this book to any intelligent reader interested in the history of Germany and Central Europe. Clark avoids academic jargon, and writes an exciting and compelling analytical narrative. He also, thank God, avoids the current fashion (see Sebag-Montefiore) for including endless, lengthy 'eye-witness' accounts.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 21 Nov. 2008
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Iron Kingdom by Christopher Clark is a good book which deals with the emergence as a major European power of Prussia through to its eventual erradication. The book itself is well written and informative but it is not quite what you would expect from a book on this subject. Although the early years of the emergence of Brandenberg- Prussia are dealt with in detail (mainly concerning the military exploits) after a certain point the book becomes more of a social history rather than anything else and in the end skims over the Great War and the fall of the ruling dynasty. However, having said that the book is informative and does explain why Prussia ended up as the state it was (although not so much how this occured) and that many of the pre-conceptions and myths about Prussia and Prussians are not actually based in reality but are a distorted view of the evidence.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prussia, 19 Aug. 2013
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This is an excellent book recommended to all students of European history. I learnt a lot from reading it. Well written, too!
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worthy but dull, 11 Nov. 2010
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Mr. Lee Simpson "Arcas" (Amersham, England) - See all my reviews
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I gave up reading this book. Somehow, despite its size, it just didn't seem to be doing much justice to the main historical events. Sure, you want social and cultural history as well as just the doings of kings and generals. But it seemes to me this has too much of the former and too little of the latter. In a nearly 700 page book I'd have expected to have learned a little more about things like the Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars, Congress of Vienna, wars of German unification, etc., than the almost fleeting references to these great events.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 July 2014
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I AM GETTING TO READ THEM AFTER MY SON. VERY INTERESTING
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 28 Aug. 2014
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M. S. M. Pijpekamp "Maaike" (Groningen, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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Extremely well written history of Prussia.
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