❮EPUB❯ ✼ Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern Author Simon Winder – Saudionline.co.uk

Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern summary Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern, series Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern, book Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern, pdf Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern, Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern 241a1a997f Winder Describes Germany S Past Afresh, Taking In The Story From The Shaggy World Of The Ancient Forests Right Through To The Nazis Catastrophic Rise In The S, In An Accessible And Startlingly Vivid Account Of A Tortured But Also Brilliant Country

10 thoughts on “Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern

  1. says:

    A disappointing effort, overall Here is my review for the San Francisco Chronicle GermaniaIn Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their HistoryBy Simon Winder Farrar, Straus and Giroux 454 pages 25 At first glance one assumes that Simon Winder has in mind with Germania something like an updating of the late great Gordon Craig of Stanford s The Germans, a classic study by the onetime dean of American historians of Germany Actually, not at all.Winder, who works in publishing in Britain, may in one sense have set off, as the subtitle says, In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History, but not in any sense you d think For example, as he mentions several times, self floggingly, he does not actually speak German.That is, even after many dozens of trips to Germany over the years, he seems to have no ability to carry on any kind of conversation To call this bizarre would be an understatement And it s not as if Winder tries to make up for this lack by treading softly He mocks Germans regularly, puckishly and pedantically I laughed hardest when he referred to horror at German food, as if the Brits could possibly cop an attitude in this area Is the man insane Compare a banger blah with a Nurnberger bratwurst excellent.It was only as I made it several hundred pages into Winder s alternately intriguing and wearying descriptions of many centuries of German history, as revealed through trips to small town museums and schlosses, that I finally understood Winder has been a Germany obsessive for years and makes the offensive put downs in proactive self defense, given the vitriolic anti German sentiment that to this day maintains a robust following in Britain.So maybe only then can Winder offer such arresting thoughts as his suggestion that the world would have been better off if his country had never gotten involved in the First World War If Britain had been neutral in 1914 it is hard to see how Germany could not have won the war in a fairly conventional way in a couple of years, thereby sparing the unlimited disasters that followed, he writes After all, in the aftermath of the Franco Prussian War almost everyone just got on with their lives, buying stuff and having families and a Europe dominated by the Germany of 1914 would have been infinitely preferable to a Europe dominated by the Germany of 1939 He has a point No botched peace, no Third Reich Still, it takes an original and brave thinker to write that kind of thing down He says early on that he s happy not to be a professional historian Given the continuing glee with which the British press often resorts to hate mongering against Germans, even at a time when, according to Gallup, Germans are Americans favorite non English speaking foreigners, it s a nice change of pace to get a whiff of Winder s highly unusual honesty The Germans saw themselves in the Great War as sitting at the heart of European heritage, fighting against a bunch of vulgar materialists the British , pants down revanchists the French and drunken savages the Russians , he writes Until 1914 most British intellectuals would have denied being vulgar materialists, but would have been happy to agree with the descriptions of their new allies and have conceded Germany s central place in European culture In 1914 this was knocked on the head with an immediate campaign across British universities to expunge German thinking and block out any sense at all of Germany as a major culture, except perhaps in the far distant past It became, for obvious reasons, suspect to have any interest in Germany at all The book spans many centuries, but wisely chooses to break off as Hitler seizes power in 1933 Winder can be too long winded and vapid, as when he adopts a gee whiz tone in remarking that in many European countries, the south is warmer than in the north, with the corresponding differences you d expect But Winder has real passion for his subject and a nutty flair for the original, and, best of all, he finds marzipan absolutely revolting.Steve Kettmann, a former Chronicle reporter, lives in Berlin and writes a weekly column on politics for the Berliner Zeitung E mail him at books sfchronicle.com.This article appeared on page F 4 of the San Francisco ChronicleRead

  2. says:

    I have so many issues with this book that I don t know where to begin but I m glad I didn t buy it, only borrowed it.First off, let me say that as someone brought up by a historian dad who s always had an intense interest in Germany though he himself is Italian I found the lack of historical accurateness or academia here quite baffling even non historians writing historical books usually tend to rely on history Also, as someone now married to a German and for the past 2 years living in Germany a lot of the time and learning German as impossible a language as it is I was also completely puzzled and later disgusted by Winder s utter and unapologetic lack of interest in 1 the German language even if he does excuse this by his so called language obtuseness , 2 real Germans and real German s Germany, and 3 post Nazi Germany which is intrinsically connected to pre Nazi Germany the one by which he is ostensibly so fascinated Both of these points his lack of historical scholarism and his lack of knowledge interest in true Germanness put the book at a disadvantage for me from the start, and I was skeptical throughout my reading of it.That said, there ARE quite a few interesting tidbits within it and if you re at loose ends in a bookstore, say, you could do worse than reading them However, the best reviews on these books are those by Bonnie B Lee on Bookslut and Steve Kettmann in the San Francisco Chronicle just found out he s posted it here, too they both point out the obvious That this a book written by a Brit in a self apologetic style you need to apologize if you re British and have an inexplicable fondness for Germany and almost exclusively for Brits, for whom even today after 70 years and especially, one would think, after the economic miracle that left Britain far behind everything German leads to Hitler, Nazism, and the war they the Brits, with our help of course won The truth is, in my way of thinking, that WW2 for the Brits isn t just about Nazism it s also about the end of their empire, the passing of an imperial torch to the US, and finalization of a British way of life To that end, Germany is always to blame, isn t it Bottom line, though don t trust a book about Germany written by a nerdy Brit who doesn t speak a word of German, hasn t a single conversation with a real German, and doesn t even include philosophy or psychology in his exploration of what constitutes Germanness impossible things to avoid, really, since both are not only 100% German products but entirely connected to what IS German Further, the Personal History subtitle of the book has got to be simply a publishing gimmick, because we never really get to understand just why this plump little British boy becomes so obsessed by a country and culture he s never had any connection to and we re given barely any personal historical facts.

  3. says:

    One of the things I love about this website is the fact that you encounter all sorts of genres and books you may never have encountered before and titles which endear, charm or intrigueyep Dan, you know who you are Then there is that encounter with the opinions through reading others reviews of books you have read or are in the process of reading and this is often a wonder too as you read someone who has encountered the book and experienced it in a quite different way and it perhaps enables you to get a different slant and think oh now I never saw it from that angle but yeah i see what you mean but then you also sometimes read reviews from people who appear to have read a totally different book to the one you opened and this is just a long intro to that comment Some of the reviews of Winder s book seem to have lost sight of what the man quite clearly stated he was setting out to do and then moan when his book is not what they want it to be but is instead what he told them it would be.Anyway enough Winder writes an entertaining and fascinating personal take, remember people a PERSONAL take, on the strains and stresses of the long road of german expansion and creativity This takes him to delve into the odd and unique, the stupid and the wise, the foul and the fair all in quite equal measure though he does love the odd and the excessive it has to be said but he does stride through the centuries from the dark ages of the first millenium coming to an end to the Dark Age of Nazism beginning in 1933 and gives a windwhistle tour in a little over 400 pages of that huge swathe of battle, invention, religion, politics, alliance and disaster If you are coming to the book for in depth analysis you won t get it unless you wish for the analysis of odd collections and buildings but that is his way He enables you to hoover up enormous amounts of fact and insight even without realizing you are doing so.Many people have compared him to Bill Bryson and there is certainly a good deal of similarity in the style of the throwaway line and amusing aside but it is all done in the quite clear atmosphere of Winder s love and admiration for the German people He pokes fun at the lunacy of the proliferation of minor duchies and princedoms and the dynastic struggles which, even after the Unification of Germany as an Emperor in 1871, continued to dazzle and dance Some of the Royal families had dynastic names you would kill for my favourite being something like Schleswig Holstein Wollfenbuetten Braumschweig Unfortunately I have looked through the book but couldn t find it again to spell it totally correctly but it was something like that I am always fascinated by the history of royal Europe and this book is a feast for all the long gone minor royals who crept or swept or were totally inept in their posession of these thrones sometimes sat upon by impressive, intelligent and constructive regal bottoms and sometimes taken over by fools and thugs who seemed to communicate through aforementioned orifices.There is, in all this wealth of fun information and discovery a serious reflection on the nature of choice and history Winder expresses his belief that the Prussia of Great War Mythology was no vicious or murderous or grasping than the enemies ranged against it The behaviour of the British in so many places or of the French and Italians and Belgians and Americans in less situations but no less arrogant oppression shows that to load the blame for the Great War on to Kaiser Wilhelm was crass, simplistic and untruthful The aftermath, for him, of the Great War was not just the end of European Imperial ambitions with the domino effect of the end of Austro Hungarian, Russian, German and Ottoman Empires dragging into a total mess most of the little petty states which cowered in their seemingly powerful shadows and allowing for the fact that theoretically the british expression limped on for another few decades , but was also the destruction of a whole way of envisaging society In Winder s vision the transcultural nature of these weird hotch potch entities which for years had been held together and co existed was destroyed by shortsightedness and thus began the horrendous divide into ultra nationalistic madness which ripped Europe apart and with which we are still struggling I am not sure if I would wholeheartedly go along with all of his theory but his attempt to unpick and fairly look at the actions of all the protagonists involved is impressive and thought provoking I have read cynical comments that he stopped at 1933 so as to enable a new book to be commissioned This seems to me to be an unjust and disingenuous criticism His book expresses his understanding that just as the Black Death in 14th Century Europe seperates the Medievel Society from the renaissance and is a moment which divided one form of European life from its successor in a never to be fully reconnected way so the end of the Ancien regime of imperial and royal Europe with the disaster of the 1914 18 war destroyed and obliterated not just the silliness of wigs, uniforms and crowns but also a way of life which could, if it had evolved, prevented so much monstrous evil and the ravages which scarred the world but which was now vanished forever This may or may not be a theory the reader runs with but it is, as i stated at the start, a PERSONAL view of Winder and can only be disagreed with not disbelieved For him the Germany of which he was writing disappeared with Hitler s destruction of the Weimar republic and thus the book s purpose came to an end.This is not a book in which indepth history is studied Indeed its not a detailed examination of anything but rather is it the opportunity to meet another man s love and see him explore it sometimes joyously, sometimes sadly but never boringly I thoroughly enjoyed this.

  4. says:

    So many reviewers of this book get caught up with the fact that the author claims not to be able to speak German OF COURSE HE CAN SPEAK GERMAN, albeit not as well as he would like to, he is just being terribly, _terribly_ British about it.This is a very quirky, very personal, utterly British, history of and travel guide to Germany And I loved it It s full of fascinating information, and endearing prejudices I chuckled at his repeated Basil Fawlty like assurances that he is not, under any circumstances, going to mention The War usually just before he goes off on a long tangent talking about the war In these moments he is always at pains to mention the myriad exceptional circumstances which were necessary conditions for the rise of Fascism, and it is clear that what he is trying to do is to break down the blind association between Germany and Fascism that has been inculcated in several generations of Britons.The book is, of necessity, incomplete and inconsistent happy to linger over some obscure and eccentric museum piece while skipping over anything that doesn t take the author s fancy or, as is the case for example with marzipan, dwelling too deeply on things which he despises Despite and often because of that, it is delightful to read and you will finish it knowing far about German speaking Europe than when you started.

  5. says:

    The thesis of this book is that the Nazis manipulated and warped German traditions and culture in a way that has obscured the centuries that preceded them Moreover, the horrors of that outrageous time command an inordinate amount of attention in history because of their outrageousness and world altering effects Therefore, it takes concentrated effort to engage with the rich but somewhat neglected history at least within popular, mainstream history of Central Europe from the time of the fall of Rome to the rise of Hitler Our author is making that effort for us Our wayward historian is an intrepid and determined traveler with an articulate sense of irony and humor, as well as a genuine enjoyment of the bizarre He does well at conveying the intricate web of places, families, and traditions that have dotted Central Europe like confetti for most of history However, if you don t already have at least a general overview of knowledge of German history, which is pretty complicated, you will be overly confused The author is British, so he comes from a tradition where the average schoolkid probably learns a lot about European minutiae than American students who probably know about US history than he does, so there ya go If I hadn t taken German as my language in high school and taken European History I II for my teaching license, I would have found the book a little confusing He jumps from topic to topic in a vaguely chronological but incomprehensive exploration of Germany I really liked this book and would recommend it for those who want a book that addresses but is not primarily about Nazis, but it shouldn t be your first book of German history.

  6. says:

    I m a real fan of the author after reading

  7. says:

    Very interesting, funny, poignant and brilliant book on German history, from the Dark Ages to 1933 Winder is a British Germano phile , which is actually kind of rare He journeys all over the sprawling, central European mass of Germania, a region not fixed onto the boundaries of the modern country and explores the great figures of German history, like Charlemagne, who was mostly French, or Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor who was kind of, well, Belgian, if such a thing really existed He looks into cultural practices, food, architecture, art and although he cuts off the book at the coming to power of Hitler, the Nazis and the two world wars are rarely left out of any chapter, the sadness and bewilderment apparent from someone who admires the Germans of how their country was consistently led astray by mediocre butchers like Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler This is a great European travel book and history for anyone interested in Germany Winder s writing is so elegant and smooth, and witty that it s like drinking chocolate milk while getting a massage Covers in detail confusing aspects of history like the rise of the Franks, the Crusades, the Hanseatic League, the 30 Years War and

  8. says:

    I admit that I m a sucker for subjective history books as long as they re not about my own country Winder is very opinionated particularly about German food and just about every Land north of Hesse yet he brings such insights into art, history and architecture that the reader cannot help but learn about German history One admirable trait of this book is its effort to describe the lunacy and interelations of the hundreds of German kingdoms and duchies that made up the Holy Roman Empire Widner s efforts to do this make the book seem haphazard at times, but the contribute so much to the richness of what he is trying to describe.This book is a visual feast, and it needs to be read with a computer nearby I found myself turning time and again to Google Images to look up an artwork or building referenced in the book the Magdeburg Cenotaph was one such revelation What I liked most about this book is that it is a launching place from which Germanophiles can find elements of this fascinating culture to investigate.

  9. says:

    On one level this is an amusing travel book around the Germany of the scores of tiny medieval city states whose dottiness charm and fascinate the author the reader must simply follow on behind in awe of his weird and obsessive learning But there are also some mind blowing bits of modern historical insight Building an insignificant naval base in the 1850 s but then calling it Wilhelmshaven left the nationalistic Germans with no choice but to build a navy to go in it hence followed Anglo German naval rivalry and the war that shaped world history Also the long unemployment of the Germany army after Bismarck s three swift little victories of the 1860 s reveals the shallowness of German militarism they venerated but didn t actually use their army, so couldn t wait to do so in 1914 And a wonderful description of their silly colonial empire which promised a certain amount of coffee and an infinity of coconut matting This gives a flavour of the larky, entertaining style of the author who is a thoroughly engaging companion as he guides us through this other, older, gentler and forgotten Germany The same author gave us in an earlier book the thesis that the cult of James Bond was invented to help the British through the trauma of losing the empire This is history as it should be unstuffy, fun and in a good way slighly demented.

  10. says:

    Germany The industrial and economic behemoth of the modern Europe But it hasn t always been that way In this book Winder takes us way back into Germanys past, as far as the Romans even, before bringing up to the relatively modern age The Germany of this age was a frontier of the Roman empire, similar to the far north of England over the line were the barbarians There is still architecture from those days too, that has survived countless wars and skirmishes.Until relatively recently, 1871 in fact, Germany was a patchwork of princedoms, mini states and bigger empires, some really tiny too Sometimes they all got along, but frequently they didn t As he travels around the country he reveals snippets of history about the places he visits There are tales of battles, disputes, religious leaders whose remains were displayed in gibbets around the town the gibbets are still there too , of aristocrat princes and barons and the castles and cathedrals that they built.He does avoid recent World War 2 history, partly because the history that the Germans prefer is prior to that too, and also that they are countless other books on that conflict He does brush gently against it, looking at the events that lead to Hitler and the Nazis seizing power in the 1930 s.I was quite looking forward to this one, as I had enjoyed reading another of his called Danubia That book was interesting, and also witty and fairly often really funny Sadly this one didn t seem to have that lighter humour that it really needed to lift it IT is stuffed full of fact and anecdotes, and come across as being fairly well researched Worth reading if you have a fascination with Germany, but may not be for everyone 2.5 stars

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