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Balanced & Comprehensive
am 21. August 2007
This is a long overdue book. Prussia, as far as the "politically correct" German perception of its history is concerned, was a precursor for everything bad (or worse) that came thereafter. The decision of the Allies to brand Prussia as a militarist state and to expunge it from history in 1947 gave it the mark of Cain in the English speaking world.
Christopher Clark has now produced a comprehensive and dispassionate history of Prussia that puts many of the common prejudices into perspective. In the end, he argues, the German state that arose from Prussia chose to adopt many of the latter's most negative attributes (largely because Germany's increased political weight made it more self-assured and less defensive), while the German unification in 1871 in turn became the undoing of Prussia and Prussian values.
Although I would like to recommend this book to a general audience, its exhaustive and exhausting narrative may be the one thing going against the book. Clark's style is lucid but scholarly, and 700 pages packed with information is a long haul. A must-read in any case for anyone interested in modern German and European history.