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Frederick the Great Paperback – November, 1988

17 customer reviews

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Paperback, November, 1988
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"This major biography of Frederick (1712-86) is as full an account of the Prussian ruler's exploits in war and peace as is likely to be written," asserted PW , "Asprey fashions the disparate sides of this soldier-intellectual into a lucid narrative of his leadership." Photos.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This welcome reprise of the great Prussian soldier-king provides some new insights into the tantalizing contradictions in his personality and behavior and retells the crowded events of his life in a comprehensive manner. Asprey's fresh prose and anecdotal style are appealing to the modern reader and detailed enough to satisfy the specialist. He is skilled at depicting the people who surrounded Frederick and in explaining the tortuous political and military affairs of the era. The book makes a nice companion to Christopher Duffy's Military Life of Frederick the Great ( LJ 1/86). Recommended for public and school libraries. Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (P); 1st Printing edition (November 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899198406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899198408
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,724,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is a sparkling book which reveals much about the life and times of a man about which too little is known in our age. Frederick the Great (King of Prussian 1740-1786) militarily united much of the Protestant northern Germany under one crown--the Prussian crown. He did so while supporting the enlightenment idea of toleration of religious differences, at least in theory, and with the goal of making Prussia a major power in central Europe.
Frederick anticipated Napoleon by re-introducing the strategy of the attack to military theory. He laid much of the groundwork for the diplomacy of Bismarck which a hundred years later sould see Frederick's great grand-nephew, William I (reigned 1861-1888) crowned German Emperor in 1871.
Frederick was certainly an genius in some areas of his life. However, as this book points out, he inherited a lot of the tools that he would need for success during his reign from his father, King Frederick William I (reigned 1713-1740). For instance, the army that Frederck the Great used so devastatingly in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763), had been painstakingly built by his father.
Additionally, he inherited a close diplomatic reationship with the British crown from his mother, Sophie Dorothea of Hanover. Sophia Dorothea was the daughter of George I and brother of George II of England. Assured of English neutrality Frederick could have a free hand to deal with Austria during the Seven Years War of 1756-1763.
Asprey writes in a way that is entertaining and still relates a good deal on information to the reader. Because of this, his work on Frederick the Great is a welcome addition to anyone's library.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard X. Bove Sr. on August 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Robert Asprey's life of Frederick The Great was a fascinating read. The author's understanding of his subject makes Frederick come to life. One can understand the forces that created the man, his strengths and weaknesses.
Asprey also provides a clear view of Europe in Frederick's times. The constant conflicts between its nations is difficult to understand from the perspective of the modern reader. In our times Europe has been at peace for more than 50 years (despite the conflagration in the Balkans) yet in Frederick's time the great nations could not stop warring with each other.
Most fascinating in this book, however, is the suspense filled descriptions of Frederick's major battles and the masterful way the king manuevered through the 7 year war. This was very exciting reading. It also provided insights as to how an inferior force can prevail against what appeared to be overwhelming odds.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kevin C. B. on March 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book may be out of print, but it certainly is not out of style. Mr. Asprey does try to maintian a degree of objectivity throughout the book, but he doesn't always succeed. Nevertheless, this book shines with in depth research of nearly every aspect of the life, politics, loves, and military considerations of Frederick the Great throughout his reign. There is a near 100 page bibliography in the back, replete with sources for further reading. The way the author wove the story of Frederick of Prussia was masterful in holding my attention as well as making me more interested in period politics of the era. What a fascinating era in European development. What a fascinating human being Frederick the Great was. A true humanist philospher king forced to embark upon a war of expansion to ensure his country would be able to dictate it's own course in the near future of Europe (through Germany as he envisioned it) and beyond. A truly cruel and engimatic circumstance to be trapped in as an enlightened human being during the mid 18th century. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I emphatically recommend it to anyone interested in this period of European history. Good coverage of historically significant battles with terrain maps and battle line progression provided as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven Larsen on July 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Asprey is one of my favorite historians for his writing style alone. The book moves along, yet leaves nothing out. The descriptions of the battles are written in such a fluid, lucid style that few have achieved. If you want to know every move some particular regiment made in the battle, you won't find that here. This is a general bio of Frederick and not concerned solely with his battles. But Asprey does manage to convey the ebb and flow of the battles through a very direct, almost telegraphic at times, way of writing.

A great introduction to all aspects of Fredericks life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MacCalpin on January 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this a readable and useful overview of Frederick and his times.

The author begins the book with an introduction listing what has and what has not happened in history as of the birth of Frederick the Great: the modern notions of freedom scarcely existed, and "[the] world largely belonged to emperors, kings, nobles, and priests. They made war as they made love: Scarcely one affair ended before another began." This backdrop is helpful in understanding Frederick's behavior that might to modern eyes seem cold-blooded, if not vicious. In the context of eighteenth century European politics, his behavior looks more reasonable.

The author next takes us to another insight into his later behavior: his brutal upbringing. His father seemed unable to comprehend his son and could think of little other than brutality and inflexibility to instill proper virtues in his heir.

The book shifts into higher gear as Frederick ascends the throne and promptly goes to war with Austria. The campaigns are gone through in a fairly brisk fashion (though I would have liked more campaign maps, the battle maps are sufficient), but anyone looking for a blow-by-blow of Frederick's wars or battles should look elsewhere for deep details. There is enough detail to make me question the military genius so often ascribed to Frederick: his campaigns often foundered due to overreach, poor logistics, and military methods (irregulars) that Frederick poorly understood. He may have been better than most of his opponents, but there was plenty of room for improvement.

One key attribute of the book is that the author generally refrains from much comment on the goings on: he generally sticks to the facts themselves.
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