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.