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

Paperback | February 28, 2009

byChristopher Clark

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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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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 ...

Christopher Clark is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of Politics of Conversion: Missionary Protestantism and the Jews in Prussia 1728-1941 and Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the coeditor of Culture Wars: Catholic-Secular Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Europe.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:800 pages, 9.25 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:February 28, 2009Publisher:HarvardLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674031962

ISBN - 13:9780674031968

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

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1. The Hohenzollerns of Brandenburg

2. Devastation

3. An Extraordinary Light in Germany

4. Majesty

5. Protestants

6. Powers in the Land

7. Struggle for Mastery

8. Dare to Know!

9. Hubris and Nemesis: 1789-1806

10. The World the Bureaucrats Made

11. A Time of Iron

12. God's March through History

13. Escalation

14. Splendour and Misery of the Prussian Revolution

15. Four Wars

16. Merged into Germany

17. Endings

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

[A] valuable book...[Clark] shows how complicated the history of Prussia really was, and how exciting were the contrasts in its history between religious tolerance and intolerance, enlightenment and obscurantism, centralized power and regional particularism, the rule of law and ruthless authoritarianism...Prussia and its army were full of contradictions, and Clark analyzes them astutely in his book, which is certainly the best recent history of Prussia...[A] masterpiece in which charming anecdotes and serious intellectual analyses mix comfortably with political and military history and descriptions of cultural and social phenomena...Clark's book seldom becomes dull, owing to the elegance of its style and the colorfulness of some of its powerful characters.