READ IN AN AFTERNOON. REMEMBER FOR A LIFETIME.
The West is in full retreat. The Anglo-Saxon powers, great and small, withdraw into fantasies of lost greatness. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver -- and everyone looks to Berlin. But are the Germans really us, or them? This question has haunted Europe ever since Julius Caesar invented the Germani in 58 BC.
How Roman did Germania ever become? Did the Germans destroy the culture of Rome, or inherit it? When did they first drive east, and did they ever truly rule there? How did Germany become, for centuries, a power-vacuum at the heart of Europe? How was Prussia born? Did Bismarck unify Germany or conquer it? Where are the roots of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich? Why did it lose? By what miracle did a better Germany arise from the rubble? Is Germany now the last Western bastion of industrial prosperity and rational politics? Or are the EU and the Euro merely window-dressing for a new German hegemony?
This fresh, illuminating and concise new history makes sense of Europe's most admired and feared country. It's time for the real story of Germany.
With this pocket-size history, Hawes (Englanders and Huns) delivers a wide-ranging yet precise chronicle of political leaders who have served and shaped what is now Germany. He opens with Julius Caesar, who named the country and described a people preoccupied by "the pursuits of the military arts," (his contemporary Tacitus, meanwhile, noted its "pure race"). Following snapshots of Charlemagne's reign, the founding of Lutheranism, and the emperors Frederick I, II, and III, Hawes covers history from the internecine 17th-century power struggle among three dynasties (Habsburgs, Hohenzollers, and Wettins) to the emergence of the Third Reich. The author shows how after WWI, Munich became "a haven for extreme right-wingers" who galvanized the "Lutheran countryside" and laid the groundwork for WWII. While the book ends on a cautionary note about the current rise of nationalism throughout Europe, in light of Germany's lengthy history, the author concludes that the Nazi era was "a terrible aberration" and that Chancellor Angela Merkel must "hold firm" in invoking the Germany of Charlemagne. The book is embellished with maps, illustrations, diagrams, and boxes that break up the text nicely and clarify various concepts and geographical changes. (Curiously, post-WWII West Germany closely resembled what the Romans called Germania.) This clearly presented history will be of particular interest to readers following the political machinations of the European Union.