Books: Old Fritz

FREDERICK THE GREAT: THE RULER, THE WRITER, THE MAN (376 pp.) — G. P. Gooch—Knopf ($5).

In 1940, just two centuries after Frederick succeeded to the throne of Prussia, superb German armies were flanking the Maginot Line and swiftly conquering France. Their spirit and their motive were still, to an almost incredible degree, the same as Frederick's in his great campaigns.

The archetype of Prussian character and statecraft, "Old Fritz" inspired Goethe, has been almost adored by a long line of German historians. Carlyle, Macaulay and Lytton Strachey wrote of him with fascination and even with admiration. Present-day scholarship has little to add...

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