The Formative Years, 1755-1801
Series : From Reason to Revolution 1721-1815 #57
Author : Charles Edward White
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General - Pages : 436 | Images : 12 b/w maps
Paperback - Date of Publication : January 2021 | Size : 245mm x 170mm | ISBN : 9781913118990 | Helion Book Code : HEL1226
This is the first comprehensive study of Gerhard Scharnhorst in any language. Other than the author’s The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militärische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801-1805 (1989), there exists no other work on Scharnhorst in English. Of the major German works, Das Leben des Generals von Scharnhorst (1869/71), written by Hanoverian historian Georg Heinrich Klippel, was a popular biography with no critical analysis. In keeping with the political correctness of his time, Klippel failed to include a single document from Scharnhorst’s voluminous papers that was disparaging toward the social, political, and military cultures in Hanover. Seventeen years later, Prussian historian Max Lehmann published his study of Scharnhorst (1886/87), which corrected many of the flaws in Klippel’s work, but failed to provide any critical analysis of Scharnhorst’s modernization, especially as it applied to Prussia. Like Klippel, Lehmann complied with the political correctness of his time in Prussia and Germany. Rudolf Stadelmann, Scharnhorst: Schicksal und Geistige Welt (1952), is an incomplete fragment that offers some interesting insights.
Scharnhorst: The Formative Years uses the previous German studies as a starting point to present many unpublished discoveries about his youth, his education and training, his extensive service in Hanover, and the modernization program Scharnhorst sought to implement in Hanover, and later realized in part in Prussia.
A follow-up volume, detailing Scharnhorst’s career in Prussian service, is in preparation.