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The Vanished Kingdom: Travels Through The History Of Prussia Hardcover – July 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Westview (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813336678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813336671
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Most people accurately associate Prussia with duty, discipline, and fervent militarism. They may be hard-pressed, however, to define it geographically or summarize its rise and fall. With The Vanished Kingdom: Travels Through the History of Prussia, James Charles Roy attempts to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about the former German state, from its 12th-century origins to 1945. Founded by Christian knights of the Teutonic Order, Prussia and its hereditary rulers, the Hohenzollerns, reached their political zenith in 1871, when they effectively ruled the Second German Empire. After World War I and the abdication of Wilhelm II (the last ruling Hohenzollern), Prussia ceased to exist as a political entity and its territory was incorporated into a greater Germany.

Combining historical documentation with travel narrative and personal interview, Roy's prose is frequently heavy on narration and light on history. The Vanished Kingdom succeeds, however, in succinctly chronicling significant events in Prussian history, such as Bismarck's rise to power and Germany's World War I victory at Tannenberg. Maps, historical and contemporary photographs, and an extensive bibliography supplement Roy's study. An introduction by Amos Elon brings the history of Prussia up to the present day with its examination of East Prussia's former capital, Königsberg, which was incorporated into Russian territory in 1945. The fate of the city, today physically and economically devastated, remains precarious; will it return to Germany or remain a Russian territory? Together, Roy and Elon provide a comprehensive overview of Prussia's past, present, and future. --Bertina Loeffler Sedlack

From Library Journal

Roy traveled through what used to be the ancient kingdom of Prussia, the cradle of modern Germany, contrasting what he saw and heard from current Polish citizens with the memories of former German residents. The forced relocation of millions of Germans who had lived there for more than 700 years certainly added to the misery of 1945. What makes this book interesting is that few readers know much of the "Great Trek" during the winter of 1944-45 that turned Danzig into Gdansk and K?nigsberg into Kaliningrad. Many readers have heard of the alleged connection of Prussian militarism to Hitler's rise, but for those who lack an understanding of Prussia's cultural history, such allegations are meaningless. Roy, whose previous books have all dealt with Ireland, presents a solid popular history of Prussia but adds nothing new in the final chapters on the war. The book relies too heavily on secondary sources to be of use to academics, though it has a good bibliography for those unfamiliar with Prussia. Recommended for undergraduate collections and public libraries.ARandall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I found this book to be quite enjoyable and easy to read.
Thomas P. Folgert
Along with this travelogue, he fluently blends the turbulent history of Prussia, from the Teutonic Knights to Bismarck, and from Frederick the Great to Von Hindenburg.
P.K. Ryan
This book is a bonanza for anyone interested in the history of Central and Eastern Europe.
D. Sekac

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Freborg on December 28, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just wanted to personally thank James Roy for writing such a totally compelling account of Prussian history, with the inclusion of personal stories of the human tragedies endured as Prussia ceased to exist after 1945. My mother and grandparents were among those expelled by Russia and Poland. Asside from their personal accounts of these events, this is one of the only English publications I've seen which discusses the human drama in the German east at the end of the war (asside from some occasional token mention in a History Channel documentary).
Yes, parts of the history are portrayed as "romantic", esp. the Teutonic Knights, the landed aristocracy (Junkers), Frederick the Great et.al. , but so what ---- show me a history that doesn't describe the war mongering Napoleon in a similar light. The book is well tempered with the author's experience traveling through now Polish and Russian Prussia, describing the decay and ignorance of the local population with respect to relevance of historic sights (the use of the Hindenburg family cemetary as a garbage dump, with the former estate a collective farm is a case-in-point --> the locals claimed never to have heard of Hindenburg -----> the leveling of historic Koenigsberg and removal of 800 years of German history from East Prussia - including bulldozing cemetaries - is another). Both proud and disgracful history (witness Stutthof concentration camp) - its all here both inspiring and painful. And someone finally wrote it. Should be required reading in any Modern European history course - and would make a wonderful History Channel documentary.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By John V. Proesch on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My great grandmother came from near Danzig. Her name was Tarnowski, and obviously had Slavic origins. Her husband, a Proesch from Mecklenburg, was a descendant of the Slavic Abotrite tribes (ca. 800). They both considered themselves German. This book explained to me the ethic confusion of areas like Poland/Prussia. It also highlighted a fact that history has witnessed with Poland: You can wipe it off the map politically, but a Polish/Prussian sensibility will remain. What can this mean for the future? I believe Prussia is, indeed, not dead. Also, that WWIII is not neccesarily the inevitible result of such a conflict. Is the extinction of Prussia another Versailles-like offense to the German people, or can accommodation be made to deflate this "ethnic" horror? I welcome response.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey W. Wehner on December 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
That was what one coworker told me on the first day of my new job. Yea, awkward. (my ancestors left in the 1880s) Anyway, there is a lot more history to Prussia than Nazism and these days books about Prussia don't exactly pop out of the book shelves; those that do typically refer to places remote in time and place. However, the author has done a tremendous job of joining the past and how they touch and concern lands and locations today. Well researched and organized, it is a great introduction into a history your teacher might have forgotten to cover.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Sekac on September 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a bonanza for anyone interested in the history of Central and Eastern Europe. Unlike most historical nonfiction, which presents as dry, detached and even stuffy, this work brings its subjects to life, bridging the gap of the centuries and relating history to current events. As an avid student of the complex interrelationship of Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries and its influence on Europe and even the world at large, reading this, for me, was pure joy. However, I think even the most uninitiated into the makeup of this least understood, in the West, part of Europe would derive benefit and interest from delving into Roy's gem of a book!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time I've read this author, and was impressed at the handling of the topic. Far from a dull citing of historical fact, he has brought a perspective on Prussia into the relevance by his "travels through the history of Prussia". As a modern Germany attempts to define itself in Europe, the look back at Prussian history may provide foundation or a map for the certain aspects of a new German future. Topics including the importance to Germany of Konigsberg, and the "ethnic cleansing" of the German territories after the war I've heard mentioned, but never in the first person as dramatically in the book's interviews. The photos further add to his "travels" quite well.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I agree that many of the passages in this book are extremely romantic when it comes to describing Prussian history, but in my opinion the writing itself is great.
And although Roy may be slanted in his opinions when discussing Eastern European politics and history, or when describing the Wehrmacht or Teutonic Knights, he tempers this romanticism with tales of Polish Jewry and the atrocities committed against them in East Prussia and its environs.
I feel the biggest fault of the author's thinking (not the book), is the strong feeling of class that he demonstrates. It seemed to me that if a person wasn't a member of the Prussian aristocracy or a descendant, then they counted less.
Despite these points I thought the book was extremely well written and very interesting. When considering accuracy, though, the reader must read with an open mind and look at where the author is coming from.
As for inaccuracies with titles, such as The Great Elector being called "King Of Prussia" instead of "King In Prussia", there is a whole passage devoted to the explanation of both titles, as well as a geneological chart, so I don't know what the last reviewer was referring to.
If you are a descendant of people from that part of Europe, (as I am) this book will be a fascinating read. Just read it with an open mind.
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