Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947 by Christopher Clark - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

Bismarck’s Bastion

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947


Allen Lane / Penguin Press 777pp £30 order from our bookshop

Prussia: the word evokes immediate stereotypical images. The ramrod-straight Junker, his head rectangular, a monocle screwed into his eye, an ornate Pickelhaube topping him off. There is probably also a waxed moustache, and highly polished boots whose heels wait to click. Yet Prussia is also, unlike most states and nations whose histories come to be written, something now purely of the imagination. 

Christopher Clark ends this excellent book at 1947 because that is when Prussia ended, abolished by the victorious powers of the Second World War in the hope, it seemed, of obliterating not merely a geographical entity, but a cast of mind and an international cancer. The adjective ‘Prussian’ cries out

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