The Long Ride of Major Von Schill: A Journey Through German History and Memory

Overview

This unique book traces the past 200 years of German history, using an iconic German folk hero as a bellwether of changing politics and culture. In 1809, at the height of Napoleon's power in Europe, the Prussian Major Ferdinand von Schill led a revolt against the French empire. Within a month his rebellion was crushed, and Schill became a martyr for German nationalists. As the years passed, Schill's legend grew and evolved until he had become one of Germany's most famous and celebrated Napoleonic figures: the ...

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The Long Ride of Major Von Schill: A Journey Through German History and Memory

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Overview

This unique book traces the past 200 years of German history, using an iconic German folk hero as a bellwether of changing politics and culture. In 1809, at the height of Napoleon's power in Europe, the Prussian Major Ferdinand von Schill led a revolt against the French empire. Within a month his rebellion was crushed, and Schill became a martyr for German nationalists. As the years passed, Schill's legend grew and evolved until he had become one of Germany's most famous and celebrated Napoleonic figures: the subject of hundreds of novels, poems, plays, operas, films, biographies, and monuments.

Sam A. Mustafa explores the radical changes in German society and politics in the two centuries since Schill's death. In the first English-language work on the subject, he shows how Schill remarkably endured as other heroes fell in and out of fashion. For imperial propagandists, Liberal Democrats, Nazis, and Communists alike, he was a favorite historical icon and cultural touchstone. The author traces how an obscure failed rebel became a revered national symbol of patriotism and heroism and the ways each successive German regime coopted his story for its own ideological mission. Drawing on a rich array of primary and secondary sources, Mustafa considers the nature of patriotism, the creation of heroes and heroic mythology, and the fragility of history itself in a masterful narrative that will be an invaluable reference for anyone interested in the German experience during the Napoleonic Wars.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of Military History
In recognition of the bicentennial of Schill's escapade, Sam A. Mustafa has produced an extremely impressive piece of historical scholarship that is as much a biography of Schill as an historiographical autopsy on the myths and legends that have since swirled about the Prussian major. . . . And as Mustafa's book is the first English-language monograph on Schill, a wider array of readers will now have access to Schill's extraordinary journey not only through Westphalia in the spring of 1809, but also throughout German history in the centuries that followed.
The Journal Of Central European History
How did Schill, who had been an obscure thirty-year-old second lieutenant in the Queen's Dragoons when he was wounded at Auerstädt, become within two years the toast of Berlin society and the most visible and lionized popular symbol of Prussian resistance to Napoleon? Sam Mustafa's engaging book attempts to answer this question as it traces Schill's rise, literally, as a legend in his own time, to his martyrdom in 1809 as he attempted to ignite an uprising against French tyranny in Westphalia. . . . Mustafa does us a great service in his scholarly reestablishment of the importance of Schill's narrative in the story of German nationalism and patriotic culture. . . . Mustafa's book does leave us . . . with a compelling image, as embodied in the Schill legend, of a modern German nationalism: headless, peripatetic, protean.
— Kevin Cramer, 2010
Journal of Military History
In recognition of the bicentennial of Schill's escapade, Sam A. Mustafa has produced an extremely impressive piece of historical scholarship that is as much a biography of Schill as an historiographical autopsy on the myths and legends that have since swirled about the Prussian major. . . . And as Mustafa's book is the first English-language monograph on Schill, a wider array of readers will now have access to Schill's extraordinary journey not only through Westphalia in the spring of 1809, but also throughout German history in the centuries that followed.
Dennis Showalter
Contextualizing its specific topic with the wider debates and events of 1809, this work restores Ferdinand von Schill to his legitimate place in myth and history as a central symbol of Prussia's War of Liberation against Napoleon. In the process Mustafa does a fine job of reconstructing the 'rebellion that never happened' as Prussia struggled to recover from Jena and Auerstaedt.
December 2009 American Historical Review
Schill is now little more than a footnote to the history of the Napoleonic wars, but, as Sam A. Mustafa demonstrates in this engrossing and meticulously researched study, the 'long-ride' was a journey rich in contemporary and retrospective meanings. This book is the first work in English to attempt a detailed reconstruction of the Schill campaign and the myths and memories that were subsequently woven around it. . . . The portrait of Schill that emerges is more subtle and textured than anything that can be found in the existing literature.
April 2010 The Past In Review
In observing the bicentennial of Von Schill's rebellion, Sam A. Mustafa has written an impressive piece of historical biography and an analysis of the historiography that followed. Through extensive research in more than half a dozen German archives, he brings Von Schill to life for a wider audience with a lively narrative mixed with acute analysis. . . . This is a commendable piece of historical scholarship that is well worth reading.
The Journal Of Central European History - Kevin Cramer
How did Schill, who had been an obscure thirty-year-old second lieutenant in the Queen's Dragoons when he was wounded at Auerstädt, become within two years the toast of Berlin society and the most visible and lionized popular symbol of Prussian resistance to Napoleon? Sam Mustafa's engaging book attempts to answer this question as it traces Schill's rise, literally, as a legend in his own time, to his martyrdom in 1809 as he attempted to ignite an uprising against French tyranny in Westphalia. . . . Mustafa does us a great service in his scholarly reestablishment of the importance of Schill's narrative in the story of German nationalism and patriotic culture. . . . Mustafa's book does leave us . . . with a compelling image, as embodied in the Schill legend, of a modern German nationalism: headless, peripatetic, protean.
Michael V. Leggiere
Magnificent. . . . A work that transcends military history. This book is not merely about a minor Prussian military revolt against Napoleonic rule in 1809 but instead is a considerable contribution to German history writ large. The author has truly achieved a remarkable accomplishment of integrating genres in this work.
American Historical Review
Schill is now little more than a footnote to the history of the Napoleonic wars, but, as Sam A. Mustafa demonstrates in this engrossing and meticulously researched study, the 'long ride' was a journey rich in contemporary and retrospective meanings. This book is the first work in English to attempt a detailed reconstruction of the Schill campaign and the myths and memories that were subsequently woven around it. . . . The portrait of Schill that emerges is more subtle and textured than anything that can be found in the existing literature.
The Past In Review
In observing the bicentennial of von Schill's rebellion, Sam A. Mustafa has written an impressive piece of historical biography and an analysis of the historiography that followed. Through extensive research in more than half a dozen German archives, he brings von Schill to life for a wider audience with a lively narrative mixed with acute analysis. . . . This is a commendable piece of historical scholarship that is well worth reading.
Dennis E. Showalter
Contextualizing its specific topic with the wider debates and events of 1809, this work restores Ferdinand von Schill to his legitimate place in myth and history as a central symbol of Prussia's War of Liberation against Napoleon. In the process Mustafa does a fine job of reconstructing the 'rebellion that never happened' as Prussia struggled to recover from Jena and Auerstaedt.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742556973
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/11/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam A. Mustafa is associate professor of history at Ramapo College of New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: I Would Rather Die a Thousand Deaths
Chapter 2: He Could Do Wonderful Things
Chapter 3: An End With Terrors
Chapter 4: Spirit of Our Ferdinand
Chapter 5: Triumphant, Dangerous Magic
Chapter 6: Empire of Memory
Chapter 7: All is Not Lost
Chapter 8: He is a Soldier, and Must Obey
Chapter 9: More Than Just Blood or Homeland
Epilogue: Schill Street

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