Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947

Hardback

By (author) Christopher Clark

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Paperback $25.65
  • Publisher: The Belknap Press
  • Format: Hardback | 800 pages
  • Dimensions: 159mm x 235mm x 47mm | 1,284g
  • Publication date: 10 April 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0674023854
  • ISBN 13: 9780674023857
  • Edition statement: US ed
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, maps, ports

Product description

In the aftermath of World War II, Prussia--a centuries-old state pivotal to Europe's development--ceased to exist. In their eagerness to erase all traces of the Third Reich from the earth, the Allies believed that Prussia, the very embodiment of German militarism, had to be abolished.But as Christopher Clark reveals in this pioneering history, Prussia's legacy is far more complex. Though now a fading memory in Europe's heartland, the true story of Prussia offers a remarkable glimpse into the dynamic rise of modern Europe.What we find is a kingdom that existed nearly half a millennium ago as a patchwork of territorial fragments, with neither significant resources nor a coherent culture. With its capital in Berlin, Prussia grew from being a small, poor, disregarded medieval state into one of the most vigorous and powerful nations in Europe. "Iron Kingdom" traces Prussia's involvement in the continent's foundational religious and political conflagrations: from the devastations of the Thirty Years War through centuries of political machinations to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, from the enlightenment of Frederick the Great to the destructive conquests of Napoleon, and from the "iron and blood" policies of Bismarck to the creation of the German Empire in 1871, and all that implied for the tumultuous twentieth century. By 1947, Prussia was deemed an intolerable threat to the safety of Europe; what is often forgotten, Clark argues, is that it had also been an exemplar of the European humanistic tradition, boasting a formidable government administration, an incorruptible civil service, and religious tolerance. Clark demonstrates how a state deemed the bane of twentieth-century Europe has played an incalculable role in Western civilization's fortunes. "Iron Kingdom" is a definitive, gripping account of Prussia's fascinating, influential, and critical role in modern times.

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Review quote

"Iron Kingdom", Christopher Clark's stately, authoritative history of Prussia from its humble beginnings to its ignominious end, presents a much more complicated and compelling picture of the German state, which is too often reduced to a caricature of spiked helmets and polished boots. Prussia and its army were inseparable, but Prussia was also renowned for its efficient, incorruptible civil service; its innovative system of social services; its religious tolerance; and its unrivaled education system, a model for the rest of Germany and the world. This too was Prussia--a tormented kingdom that, like a tragic hero, was brought down by the very qualities that raised it up. Mr. Clark, a senior lecturer in modern European history at Cambridge University, does an exemplary job. A lively writer, he organizes masses of material in orderly fashion, clearly establishing his main themes and pausing at crucial junctures to recapitulate and reconsider. Prussia, a self-invented artifact right down