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The rise of Prussia to a position of preeminence in the German world at the end of the 19th century and the unification of Germany under Prussia was one of the most important events in the history of modern Europe. It signified a transfer of power from the periphery (France and Britain) eastwards to the centre where it was to remain until the emergence of Stalinist Russia in the 1930s. However, the fact that German unification was brought about as a result of the Prussian military has led to many misconceptions about the nature of Prussia, and consequently of Germany, which persist to this day. Beginning in 1830 and finishing with the official dissolution of Prussia by the Allies in 1947, this book sets out to correct misconceptions about the development of Prussia and its role in German history.
While traditional political concerns are not neglected, the book has a broad approach and includes chapters on: conservatives and the monarchy; industrialization; the transformation of the rural and urban environment; the labour movement; the tensions between Catholics and Protestants within the state; and the debate about the links between Prussian militarism and the final tragedy of Nazi Germany. By focusing on the social, religious and political tensions which helped define the course of Prussian history, this book also throws light on the development of modern German history.
Philip Dwyer is Lecturer in History at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. He is also the author of The Rise of Prussia, 1700-1830.