There is very little I can add to the other reviews of this book except to reiterate that despite its length and detail, it is a very easy and compelling book to read and one not to be missed for those who are interested in modern European history. This is a history of Prussia and how the Margraves of Brandenburg came to be the Kings in Prussia and then Kings of Prussia, before finally becoming the German Emperors. This is most emphatically not a history of Germany nor a history of the Hohenzollerns but a history of the territory they ruled and how they increased both the physical and political and cultural importance of their territory. Reading this book does require prior knowledge of the history of the region and periods covered not least to fill in those gaps others have mentioned. There are no family trees in the paperback edition, so it might be a good idea to print out one from the internet to follow who is who (and have a detailed atlas of Germany handy as well, as the maps in the Penguin edition are not always easy to read.)
Two very minor typographical/proofreading errors in the Penguin edition which I bought: (these ought to be addressed to Penguin but it has proved beyond my deductive skills to find how to contact their history editors) p. 62, Frederick II the Great is the Great Elector's great-grandson, not his grandson (an error not repeated elsewhere); and p. 666, the name should read Arthur Seyss-Inquart, not Inquest. It says much about the quality of the book that these two very minor errors appear all the more glaring because of that quality.
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