FREDERICK THE GREAT: A Profile by Peter Paret


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Twelve assessments of the greatest Hohenzollern of them all, judiciously selected and introduced by the editor. Seven, including Dilthey on the founding of the Berlin Academy and Frederick's philosopher-king aspirations and Franz Mehring's polemical attack on the exploitation of the Frederician legend by latter-day nationalists, appear in English for the first time. Walter Dorn's masterful analysis of 18th century Prussian bureaucracy leaves no doubt that Frederick, far more than Louis XIV, could have justly said, ""l'etat c'est moi."" Gerhard Ritter on Frederician warfare contrasts the limited ""strategy of exhaustion"" developed by the Prussians to Napoleon's tactical concept which sought the ""destruction"" rather than the attrition of enemy forces and underlines the cautious low-risk character of 18th century war. Two contemporary chroniclers record the King on an inspection tour of his provinces and on the battlefield against the Austrians during the Seven Years' War; both are notable for the matter-of-fact brusque frankness of the King's exchanges with his nobility and officials, a startling contrast to the petrified etiquette and pomp prevailing at Versailles. The struggle between the aesthete ideologue who courted Voltaire and d'Alembert and the hard-headed pragmatist who overran Silesia and practiced a ruthless realpolitik provides the overall leitmotif and there are helpful historiographic appraisals by the editor. An outstanding contribution to the publisher's ""World Profiles"" series.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
Publisher: Hill & Wang