FREDERICK THE GREAT by Nancy Mitford

FREDERICK THE GREAT

KIRKUS REVIEW

Somehow the powdered entrees and escritoire intrigue of the Sun King's court in Miss Mitford's (1966) presentation tire easier and jollier to trace than the drearier finagling which accompanied Frederick the Great's several military/political endeavors. However the author makes the most of that remarkable 18th century ruler's most striking attributes and accomplishments. Consistently harassed in the late years of his gout-ridden mad rather, King Frederick William (the "Soldier King"), it is a wonder Frederick survived at all. In fact, in his youth he believed for a time he would be executed for desertion from the restrictive, even brutal royal close. Not surprisingly an admirer of French culture (his father had laid about with an ever-present cane at the mention of France), Frederick was a strenuous admirer of Voltaire and their uneasy relationship throughout the years reflected the formidable strengths and tetchy vanities of both. Frederick was not fond of the company of women (there is no exhaustive scrutiny of his sexual proclivities here) and perhaps bis favorite females were his sister Wilhelmine and the tough old adversary, Maria Teresa of Hungary. ("He had fought her but had never been her enemy.") Frederick's literary output (including the "anti-Machiavellian" treatise on government, philosophy and military sciences) his compositions and performances on the flute, his interest in education are not really scrutinized here with any fascinated attention and this is more of an accounting than a portrait. However, with 48 pages of color plates, 130 halftones, this will probably shadow the Sun King's path.
Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1970
ISBN: 009952886X
Page count: 271pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1970




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