In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History

Book - 2010
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"Germania" explores how people are misled by history, how they twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. The work is full of curiosities, odd food, castles, mad princes, and fairy tales--the unseen sides of Germany.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
ISBN: 9780374254001
Branch Call Number: 943 WIN
Characteristics: 466 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm


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SkokieStaff_Steven May 22, 2018

Simon Winder’s “Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History” is something of a paradox. How is that a people, let’s face it, not known for a well-developed sense of humor could inspire such an amusing book? Winder has a great eye for the ridiculous, the absurd, and the ironic so he views the territory of the old Holy Roman Empire as an overflowing treasure chest, a metaphoric cabinet of curiosities in a land replete with quite literal cabinets of curiosities. While the book is structured as a history of the German lands from Roman times to 1933—Winder knows when to draw a curtain—this framework is often all but lost beneath his frequent digressions as he turns his attention to some aspect of contemporary German life or relates a visit to one of the region’s dotty historical sites. As a witty writer of histories cum travelogues, Winder ranks right up there with such masters of the craft as Bill Bryson, Sarah Vowell, and J. Maarten Troost. Published in 2010, “Germania” is now available as a downloadable audiobook, and I hope it finds the large audience it deserves.

Feb 18, 2016

Was the Holocaust a fated consequence of militarism and anti-Semitism in pre-1933 German culture or was it made possible only by a combination of tragic events, flawed philosophy, and bad judgments that led to the Nazis being allowed to take power? Winder argues for the latter, highlighting the threads of German history before Hitler that show other roads that could (and should) have been taken. The book is surprisingly light-hearted--Winder consciously tries to recover the parts of German history that contrast with the Gothic darkness and gloomy dutifulness that outsiders often associate with Germany and Germans.

Cutie625 Sep 28, 2014

A good book, but the author can be self indulgent which makes the book longer than it need be.

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