*Preu�en. Aufstieg und Niedergang 1600-1947
von Christopher Clark , 2007
Die Geschichte Preu�ens - ein brillant erz�hltes Standardwerk
Die Aufl�sung Preu�ens durch ein alliiertes Kontrollratsgesetz am 25. Februar 1947 setzte einen Schlusspunkt unter eine Jahrhunderte alte wechselvolle Geschichte. Der Name Preu�en ist untrennbar verbunden mit Aufkl�rung und Toleranz, verk�rpert etwa in Friedrich dem Gro�en, verbunden aber auch mit Militarismus, Ma�losigkeit und Selbst�bersch�tzung Wilhelms II. Das Nachdenken �ber Preu�en stand in den letzten Jahrzehnten im Schatten der hitzigen Debatten �ber die deutsche Geschichte. Doch die Zeit ist reif f�r einen distanzierten, sensibel w�genden Blick auf dieses gro�e Kapitel der deutschen und europ�ischen Vergangenheit. Christopher Clark schildert den Aufstieg Preu�ens vom kleinen, an Bodensch�tzen armen Territorium um Berlin zur dominierenden Macht auf dem europ�ischen Festland und schlie�lich die Aufl�sung nach dem Zusammenbruch des Deutschen Reiches. Seine brillante Darstellung ist ein Meisterwerk angels�chsischer Geschichtsschreibung. � 60. Jahrestag: Aufl�sung Preu�ens am 25. Februar 1947 � Unabh�ngiger, britischer Blick auf die ambivalente preu�isch-deutsche Geschichte
"Es ist nicht m�glich, Preu�ens Triumph und Trag�die besser zu erz�hlen. Christopher Clarks Geschichte Preu�ens schildert lebendig eines der gro�en Gem�lde europ�ischer Geschichte."
*Expansive and detailed history of the Prussian Empire,*, 11 Dec 2006
Reviewer: A. G. Corwin >
Rich in detail, Christopher Clark's new book Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947, 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.
Clark 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 "Willy", and examines in detail the social, political, economic and military issues that played such a part in the development of Prussia. Where Clark especially shines is 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 maneuverings between Prussia, France, England, Russia, and Austria make for fascinating reading, with Prussia somehow managing to come out ahead more often than not (conversely, Austria managed to always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory).
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 Calvanism 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. All in all though, it is a very solid book and a nice addition to your history shelf. Recommended.
*Well worth buying*, 24 Nov 2006
Reviewer: Mr. D. Sutherland "Book lover" It's taken me a couple of months to battle my way through this book (time constraints, not because it is boring!), but it's been worth every penny spent on it. Christopher Clark is a very able writer, putting across 350 of history in an engaging, interesting manner. When I ordered the book, I was expecting history mostly of the military kind, in the with the popular view of Prussia as mostly a military power. Actually, the author spends a lot more time on the economic, political and social aspects of Prussia, which really broadened my understanding of it. I didn't know - for example - that Prussia sat out most of the 18th century wars after Fredrick the Great. This is apparently why the Prussians were so humiliated by Napoleon.
Some areas received more focus than others, such as Fredrick the Great, the Napoleonic Wars, the frequent near-revolutions amongst the various working class and agrarian workers during the 19th century, the Jews, Catholics and Poles living in Prussia. You get a real sense of the diversity of Prussia beyond the stereotypical view of the toffee-nosed Junker or precise goose-stepping soldiers. The `birth' of Prussia itself is fascinating - it was almost wiped out during the religious wars of the 17th century, the land being repeatedly invaded and occupied by various powers. The Prussian enlightenment also gets a good section on it, along with Bismarck's political machinations.
There is little on WW1 or WWII, but I think this is rightly so. What happened during the wars was experienced by all Germany. In all, this was a terrific buy, and the only surprising me is that no-one has written a book about Prussian history before.