Piet and soldier, misanthrope and philospher, Frederick the Great was a contradictory, almost unfathomable man. His conquests made him one of the most formindable and feared leaders of his era. But as a patron of artists and intellectuals, Frederick re-created Berlin as one of the continent's great cities, matching his state's reputation for military ferocity with one for cultural achievement.
Though history remembers Frederick as a "Potsdam Fuhrer," his father more rightly deserved the title. When, as a youth, Frederick attempted to flee the elder man's brutality, the punishment was to watch the execution of his friend and co-conspirator, Katte. Though a subsequent compromise allowed Frederick to take the throne in 1740, he would remain true unto himself. His tastes for music, poetry, and architecture would match the significance of his military triumphs in the Seven Years' War.
Drawing on the most recent scholarship, Giles MacDonogh's fresh, authoritative biograhy gives us the most fully rounded portrait yet of an often misunderstood king.