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The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914
Richard J. Evans
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Young Wilhelm: The Kaiser's Early Life, 1859-1888
John C. G. Röhl
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A superb overview of an important conflict

The Seven Years War in Europe: 1756-1763 - Franz A.J. Szabo

When Napoleon entered Potsdam on 24 October 1806 after his forces smashed the Prussians at the battle of Jena-Auerstedt, he made it a point to visit the tomb of Frederick the Great. While there he famously told his men to doff their hats, saying, "if he were here now, he wouldn't be." After reading Franz Szabo's history of the European campaigns of the Seven Years' War, it's hard to understand why the Prussian monarch rated such respect. Szabo's detailed account of the bloody and devastating conflict serves as a powerful corrective to the Prussian king's standing as one of the great military leaders of history. In it he meticulously relates the various battles, showing time and again his flawed judgments, his undeservedly ruthless treatment of his subordinates and men, his bigoted assessments of his opponents and the errors that they spawned. Szabo also argues for a different interpretation of Frederick's opponents, especially (as befits an historian of the Austrian empire) Austria and her military, as it was only the death of the Tsarina Elizabeth in 1761 and the succession of her unabashedly Prussophile nephew Peter III that saved Frederick from a defeat that would have changed the course of European history. With this book, Szabo gives English-language readers the account of the war they have long needed, one anybody interested in the conflict should read.