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Publisher's Summary

Frederick the Great is one of history's most important leaders. Famed for his military successes and domestic reforms, his campaigns were a watershed in the history of Europe, securing Prussia's place as a continental power and inaugurating a new pattern of total war that was to endure until 1916. However, much myth surrounds this enigmatic man's personality and his role as politician, warrior, and king. 

Dennis Showalter's cleverly written book provides a refreshing, multidimensional depiction of Frederick the Great and an objective, detailed reappraisal of his military, political, and social achievements. Early chapters set the scene with an excellent summary of 18th-century Europe and the Age of Reason; an analysis of the character, composition, and operating procedures of the Prussian army; and explore Frederick's personality as a young man. Later chapters examine his stunning victories at Rossbach and Leuthen, his defeats at Prague, and Kolin and Prussia's emergence as a key European power. 

Written with style and pace, this book offers brilliant insights into the political and military history of the 18th century, and one of history's most famous rulers.

©1996 Dennis Showalter; introduction copyright 2012 by Pen & Sword Books Ltd. (P)2020 Tantor

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Thrashed insensibly by over writing

I have just survived the onslaught of this overwhelmingly badly written book. Dragged about by streams of long passive sentences, then broken up with a fifty-four word active sentence. Showalter’s writing style was a choke hold of incomprehension. Further, the title is misleading. It is not Frederick the Great’s military history but a history of the Seven Year’s War in which he was a participant. The only place his military tactics were discussed was at the last section of the book.
In the recent New Yorker review of David Reynolds’ biography on Lincoln, the reviewer points out that it is the trend by biographers to rely on the social, cultural, political, and I would add economic conditions during which the person was living. Showalter certainly falls in this category if he is writing a military history of Frederick the great; however, if he had made his title apparent that it was a history during the Seven Year’s War, he would be off the hook. As to the Audible, Joe Barrett was ill-adapted to narrate this book. He was insensitive to the cadences to the sentences, to the breaks in phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and sections. Nor did he help the listener digest the long passive passages that became just noise after a time. Don’t read this book as a one’s first book on this subject. Heck, I would not recommend reading this book at all. Stay clear.

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Superb

I must admit I knew very little about Fredrick the Great. I remember just the name from what I had learned in school many, many years ago. I came across this book hoping I would learn something, and I did.

This is not a biography of Fredrick Hohenzollern II (1712-1786), King of Prussia, but a review of this military campaigns. Fredrick the Great ruled Prussia as a highly disciplined police state. He is famous for reorganizing the Prussian Army. He was fanatical about discipline and his military became famous as the most disciplined army in Europe. He said that he wanted the men more afraid of the officers than the enemy. He also developed the goose step march that requires enormous disciple and strikes fear in the people. Today, it is primarily used by the armies of dictators. Showalter made a comment that caught my attention, he said, “Fredrick was King of Prussia but should have been in the mad house.”

The book is well written and meticulously researched. I was impressed by Showalter’s writing skills. He presented the materials in a most readable fashion. The book is thirteen hours and thirty-one minutes. Joe Barrett does an excellent job narrating the book. Barrett is an actor. He has won fourteen Earphone Awards, eight times a finalist for the Audie Award and finally won it in 2013.


1 person found this helpful