• Iron Kingdom

  • The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
  • By: Christopher Clark
  • Narrated by: Shaun Grindell
  • Length: 28 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (896 ratings)

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Iron Kingdom  By  cover art

Iron Kingdom

By: Christopher Clark
Narrated by: Shaun Grindell
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Publisher's Summary

In the aftermath of World War II, Prussia - a centuries-old state pivotal to Europe's development - ceased to exist. In their eagerness to erase all traces of the Third Reich from the earth, the Allies believed that Prussia, the very embodiment of German militarism, had to be abolished. But as Christopher Clark reveals in this pioneering history, Prussia's legacy is far more complex.

What we find is a kingdom that existed nearly half a millennium ago as a patchwork of territorial fragments, with neither significant resources nor a coherent culture. With its capital in Berlin, Prussia grew from being a small, poor, disregarded medieval state into one of the most vigorous and powerful nations in Europe. Iron Kingdom traces Prussia's involvement in the continent's foundational religious and political conflagrations: from the devastations of the Thirty Years' War through centuries of political machinations to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, from the enlightenment of Frederick the Great to the destructive conquests of Napoleon, and from the "iron and blood" policies of Bismarck to the creation of the German Empire in 1871 and all that implied for the tumultuous 20th century.

©2006 Christopher Clark (P)2017 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Iron Kingdom

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Let me make it easier for you.

I have listened a lot of books on Audible - most of them history - and I just can't take any more of this one.
It's like being nibbled to death by ducks or a bedtime story from the IRS tax form instructions.

For a place that influenced so much European history, Prussia should be much more interesting than this book
makes it out to be:

Take a few hours and repeat the following lines with variations and you will get an idea what this book is like.
(The dates and people and places are in a random order.)
Albert Frederick
April 4, 1602
August 8, 1732
Carl von Brühl
Christian of Oliva
David Caro
Dorothea of Montau
February 2, 1556
Frederick I
Frederick William
Friedrich Bessel
Fyodor Ertell
George William
Hans Albrecht von Barfus
Henry Berger
January 1, 1611
John Endres
John Sigismund
July 7, 1632
June 6, 1589
Leonie Cohn
Ludolf von Alvensleben (Major General)
March 3, 1568
May 5, 1715
October 10, 1547
Paul Beneke
Peter Crüger
September 9, 1788

39 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Avoided endless stories about world wars

This is a great book because it sticks to the topic: Prussia. It covers social issues and economic issues and is very interesting as to the development of Europe. Once Germany is formed Prussia becomes dominant and the nation turns in a giant barracks. There is discussion of the world wars but at 20,000 feet and the consequences of Prussian militarism become apparent. Highly recommended.

26 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

If you are looking for a very detailed accounting of Prussian history this is it.

Very detailed. I think the paper copy would have been a better choice for the ability to annotate and reference. As an audio book it went a little too deep in to the minutiae for effective storytelling. I’ve reviewed the narrator before, and he has gotten better, but still so very breathy in his pronunciation and diction. Very very well researched book though.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I Recommend This Great Book... (now that technical problem is fixed)

This book gives lots of context for the German Empire which helps explain the course of the Great War.

16 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Hated the narration

I was continually annoyed by pronunciations used by the narrator. Where German names have English equivalents, the author chose to use the English versions (eg, William rather than Wilhelm), but the narrator bizarrely chose to give those English names a mock-German pronunciation (eg, Villiam). It took me a while to work out that "Kolonya" was a reference to Cologne. Route and clerk were given an American pronunciations even though the narrator is English. Courtier was given a French pronunciation, but I had to laugh when courtiers (plural) was also given a French pronunciation, but with an "s" sound tacked on the end. A real classic was Venetian, which sounded half way between the English word and the Italian Venizia. The stress within lots of words was randomly reassigned - straTEEgist, adJUdant. Some words gained syllables while others lost them. I don't speak German, but the pronunciation of some German words and names also sounded off - Hegel being pronounced HEEgal. This all detracted greatly from an otherwise interesting book.

13 people found this helpful

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Excellent Overview

I thoroughly enjoyed this book both as a lesson in history and culture. Clark dives right in to the alliances and conflicts of the 17th century Holy Roman Empire. The first chapter is a bit of a whirlwind and I found myself reading articles in other publications to fill myself in on historical events discussed in this book so that I could keep up with the author. My patience and extra studies paid off though. The book is an excellent read, providing incites as to what defined Prussia as a state, and how it's place in history affect our understanding of the German people. I highly recommend this book.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Tough Going but Worth It

Written in long, convoluted prose, spiced with difficult German names and places, a prior knowledge of European history and geography would make the going much easier. Having neither to a great degree I had to do independent reading to fully understand many of the key events and personalities . However, the book's focus is tailored to its more limited subject, Prussia, and takes a very deep dive into just that. Slow going but rich in insight and into the politics, culture, religion and psychology of the area and by extension, into German history. Fills a big gap in my understanding of this vital area of the world.

9 people found this helpful

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great book, easy to listen to, well written

great book, easy to listen to, well written and great narration. look forward to more from author and narrator

9 people found this helpful

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  • H3
  • 01-25-19

Excellent! Good narration, engaging writing!!

the narrator did an amazing job!!!!!!! I'm probably overly critical of poor narration, and pretty quick to criticize, but this guy narrated this entire tome with talent and professionalism. I'm sure any audiobook lover knows how valuable that is.

the book itself, I found very engaging and informative. it's similar to Massey's Peter the Great narrative language, fascinating vignettes that add dimension to the historical information and even humorous tone make this book well worth even a few listens.

8 people found this helpful

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Whew. What Was that?

I bought this book to get a keen insight about the making of the Prussian/German psyche. What I got was hours of mundane drivel about the minute details of the inner workings of Prussia.
How did we get from Bismarck to Hitler?
How did Germany go from being a beacon of European development to being the destroyer of European hope?
These question aren't touched. What a pity.

5 people found this helpful