The Formative Years, 1755-1801

Charles Edward White

Scharnhorst: The Formative Years is the first comprehensive study of Gerhard Scharnhorst. It focuses on his service in Hanover, corrects the inaccuracies of previous German editions, and presents many unpublished discoveries.
Publication date:
February 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
c 7 b/w images, c 12 maps
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781913118990

Dimensions : 245 X 170 mm
This book is temporarily out of stock.


• This is the first comprehensive study of Gerhard Scharnhorst
• Corrects the inaccuracies of previous German studies
• Presents many unpublished discoveries about Scharnhorst's youth, his education and training, and his extensive time in Hanoverian service
• Focuses on the modernization program Scharnhorst later realized in Prussia

This is the first comprehensive studyof 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Scharnhorst: The Formative Years uses the previous German studies as a starting point to present many unpublished discoveries about his youth, his education and training, his extensive service in Hanover, and the modernization program Scharnhorst sought to implement in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.


For those with a deep interest in Scharnhorst's life […], this book offers much material that has not previously been available in English. It is a very thoroughly researched biography that will require careful study to appreciate its quality.
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