I was looking for one book that would give a good, clear account of Germany since World War I, particularly so as to understand the Germans and German culture today. This book is only recently published (2009), and thus, to my knowledge, is the most up-to-date. However I cannot say that the book is of the highest quality. I would like to give it 3.5 stars, but I'll have to settle for 3.
The book does give a decent overview of the main international and national events in German history over the last century. The focus is political, military, and economic. The book is strongest for earlier history (aftermath of WWI > WWII) than later. I appreciated the account of what ordinary Germans did and did not know about the Holocaust.
As for weaknesses, first, it could have been edited much more tightly, for Fulbrook tends to be repetitive (not just at the beginning and end of chapters--as if to reinforce important material--but throughout the book). The book could be a third shorter. Along with this, one senses sometimes that the book is an amalgamation of sections intended for different audiences. Is it for general readers, university-level classes, professional historians interested in historiography? It could be for all, but the style is not uniform. For instance, chapter 12 ("Diverging Cultures and National Identities?") feels like it was originally a paper given for an academic conference, but which has not been integrated well into the book. When, in this chapter, Fulbrook asks, "Can one in fact speak at all of national political cultures" (p. 265), and proceeds to speak in generalities and not about German history, one feels that this is the real question of the chapter and as if one is being led on a tangent--interesting theoretically, but irrelevant to the task at hand.
In my reading, Fulbrook tends to be sympathetic to East Germany. In her repeated comments that East Germany (and West Germany) failed to try a "third way" between Soviet-dictatorial communism and western capitalism, I got the sense that she probably has Marxist leanings along the lines of a university academic, so a proponent for some liberal socialist system. Hence, it seemed to me that the harsh realities of East German political repression were downplayed in the book (as opposed to Nazi brutalities, we are not presented with the torture techniques of the Stasi East German secret police). So, given Fulbrook's rather positive view of the GDR, the reader feels almost as if in 1989, `Surprise! The East Germans themselves don't like the GDR, are trying to get out of the country any way possible, and are happy for the GDR regime to fall.'
Given the book's tendency to focus on political-military-economic history, the presentation of German culture is weaker. If you're looking for an account of contemporary German culture, as I was, this book is not for you.
If anyone knows of a better book, I'd be interested to hear in the comments section.