Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE?, 19 Oct 2011
This review is from: Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 (Kindle Edition)
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 justly merited the title of `Iron Kingdom' ultimately collapsed and was expunged from the annals of history after the Second World War. In this, Christopher Clark succeeds brilliantly.

Who can honestly say they know anything about Prussia? When I first came across the place at school, I could not understand how there could be two states with such similar names - Prussia and Russia; and it took a long time to understand the relationship between historic Prussia and present-day Germany. Clark shows very well how this grew, but also how complex the relationship was; and how the dominance of Prussia within the German Empire between 1870 and 1914, together with the uncertain position of the Kaiser and the Army in the imperial constitution, was responsible for many of Germany's problems.

Clark tells some familiar stories - for example about Frederick the Great's invasion of Silesia and his tragic relationship with his friend Von Katte, and about the Captain of Kopenick - but he also explains some unfamiliar problems of German history. If you want to know about the conflict between the Calvinism of the State and the Lutheranism of some of the people in the seventeenth century; about Bismarck's `Kulturkampf' against the Catholic Church in the nineteenth; about the reasons why the Prussian Army collapsed so suddenly in the face of Napoleon but performed so spectacularly against Austria and France two generations later; about the role of women in the Prussian story; about why Bismarck was the architect of national insurance as well as of German unity; about why the First World War broke out, read on. These are only a sample of the topics discussed, by someone who clearly knows what he is talking about.

The book is not `dry' as one reviewer suggests: on the contrary it is a skilful interweaving of facts and anecdote, of people and socio-economic analysis. At the same time, I have to say that I did not find much in this book about the reasons for Germany's rise to economic and industrial leadership in Europe in the period before 1914, nor about her scientific, cultural and philosophic predominance; that I was not always swept along by the author's style; and the maps are not very good when viewed on the Kindle edition; but overall this is an illuminating survey of what is, in effect, the whole of Prussian history. The Iron Kingom is no more: only Brandenburg remains. Christopher Clark tells us why.

Stephen Cooper
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: South Yorkshire, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,909