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Germany: A History Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It provided an excellent overview that was easy to read, yet provided lots of interesting details. For example, we learn that Caesar wrote that Germans spent their whole life in hunting and the practice of war. A few years later, Tacitus reported that the Germans were a “fair-haired, fiercely blue-eyed people who hated peace.” Yet the author points out that by the 20th Century, Germany was the most racially mixed country in Europe, despite the fictions of Aryan purity spread by Wagner, Kaiser William, and Hitler.
The book covers a lot of ground and many personalities and events, including the Roman and Medieval periods, Charlemagne, the Renaissance, and the Holy Roman Empire. The book seemed a little superficial at times, especially when covering the First and Second World Wars, but those events are richly described elsewhere. The book clips along at a good pace and provides much interesting material.
Bismarck – the “Iron Chancellor” and Europe’s foremost statesman at the time – brilliantly united the North German Confederation in the 1860s with the kingdoms of Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurttemberg, as well as five grand duchies, thirteen other duchies and principalities, and the free cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck.
This new “Second Empire” of Germany was “florid and prosperous… the new-rich nation of Europe, with all the arriviste confidence of wealth and the arrogance bred of insecurity,” observes the author.
The history of Germany reads like a tragic epic whose ending we know, as we watch succeeding generations bring about horrendous cataclysms. With “uncompromising belligerency,” Bismarck brings on the brutal Franco-Prussian War in 1871. His successors as Chancellor continue the tradition, helping to create the Agadir Crisis in Morocco and two wars in the Balkans.
“Each ensuring crisis was like a wave that surged farther and farther up the beach until, at the last moment, it receded,” writes the author. “The haunting fear was of the one wave that would not recede, that would finally engulf the shoreline.”
That disaster came to pass in 1914, a “year fated to destroy dynasties, alter the map of Europe, and usher in the age of violence that is still with us,” notes the author. For many Americans today, World War I seems a terrible accident suddenly brought on by the assassination of a minor duke. But the author makes clear that it was the result of years of growing tension, and of “militarism run stark mad,” as President Wilson’s envoy to fruitless peace talks, Col. Edward House, said.
Esp 1872 +/- 20 years. Geneology research of German roots.
Most of western Europe is really composed of pre-existing locals and various Germanic tribes that swept in at the fall of the Roman empire. All are covered at first, then only current Germany/France/East Europe, finally only core Germany.