Frederick the Great

King of Prussia

by Tim Blanning

SPECTATOR, NEW STATESMAN, SUNDAY TIMES AND TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2015

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, dominated the 18th century in the same way that Napoleon dominated the start of the 19th - a force of nature, a caustic, ruthless, brilliant military commander, a monarch of exceptional energy and talent, and a knowledgeable patron of artists, architects and writers, most famously Voltaire. From early in his reign he was already a legendary figure - fascinating even to those who hated him.

Tim Blanning's brilliant new biography recreates a remarkable era, a world which would be swept away shortly after Frederick's death by the French Revolution. Equally at home on the battlefield or in the music room at Frederick's extraordinary miniature palace of Sanssouci, Blanning draws on a lifetime's obsession with the 18th century to create a work that is in many ways the summation of all that he has learned in his own rich and various career. Frederick's spectre has hung over Germany ever since: an inspiration, a threat, an impossible ideal - Blanning at last allows us to understand him in his own time.


  • Penguin Books Ltd; September 2015
  • ISBN: 9780241216996
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: Frederick the Great
  • Author: Tim Blanning
  • Imprint: Penguin

In The Press

Tim Blanning is that rarest of scholars, as deft in his command of government and grand strategy as he is in his handling of philosophy and opera, and is rightly regarded as one of Britain's (indeed Europe's) finest historians. This biography finds him at the height of his powers and offers major reassessments of almost every aspect of Frederick's career


About The Author

Tim Blanning is the author of a number of major works on eighteenth century Europe, including The Pursuit of Glory : Europe 1648-1815, The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture and Joseph II. He is Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and a Fellow of the British Academy. His latest book, Frederick the Great, won the British Academy Medal 2016.