Frederick the Great

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Overview

The Prussian king Frederick II (1712–1786) is perhaps best known for successfully defending his tiny country against the three great European powers of France, Austria, and Russia during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), a feat that allowed Great Britain to limit its engagement on the Continent and emerge as the world’s leading colonial power, as summed up in William Pitt’s famous claim that “America was won in Germany.”

But in his youth, tormented by a spectacularly cruel and ...

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Frederick the Great

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Overview

The Prussian king Frederick II (1712–1786) is perhaps best known for successfully defending his tiny country against the three great European powers of France, Austria, and Russia during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), a feat that allowed Great Britain to limit its engagement on the Continent and emerge as the world’s leading colonial power, as summed up in William Pitt’s famous claim that “America was won in Germany.”

But in his youth, tormented by a spectacularly cruel and dyspeptic father, this future military genius was drawn first to the flute and French poetry, and throughout his long life counted nothing more important than the company of good friends and great wits. This was especially evident in his longstanding, loving, and vexing relationship with Voltaire. An absolute ruler allergic to pomp, a nonhunter who wore no spurs, a reformer of great zeal who maintained complete freedom of the press and religion and cleaned up his country’s courts, a fiscal conservative and patron of the arts, the builder of the rococo palace Sanssouci and improver of the farmers’ lot, maddening to his rivals but beloved by nearly everyone he met, Frederick was—notwithstanding a penchant for merciless teasing—arguably the most humane of enlightened despots.

In Frederick the Great, a richly entertaining biography of one of the eighteenth century’s most fascinating figures, Nancy Mitford’s trademark wit and charm find the ideal subject.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It is written with all the author’s skill, is really hard to put down once its rhythm and energy take hold, and yet imparts an astounding quantity of information.” —Guardian
 
“Mitford’s felicity lies in capturing the spirit of a society and an age.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Nancy Mitford seems to have brought a new talent to the study of history: that of the sophisticated, worldly wise observer, who is able to penetrate old archives with a fresh eye for qualities in the dead.” —Louis Auchincloss, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Her style is skillfully succinct . . . and her wit proceeds from uncommon shrewdness.” —Sunday Times
 
“Apart from Miss Mitford’s special interests in the fun and fashion department, one may admire her most for her power to condense and explain the most complicated events.” —The New Statesman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590176238
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 7/23/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 244,171
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was the eldest of the “Mitford girls,” the sisters who captured the attention of the English public and press with their literary talents and unpopular politics. Nancy Mitford herself was known for her novels, for her forays into social science, and for her biographies of famous figures from French history, including Madame de Pompadour, The Sun King, and Voltaire in Love, all available from NYRB Classics.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    Good Luck

    A tough book to get through; if French isn't understood you'll suffer to make sense of significant portions of the narrative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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