Ok this isn’t strictly accurate – it just had more of a ring than the Best of Germany! Here we share five compelling reads that provide a deep dive into the German psyche – as well as the country’s politics, history and culture. From personal accounts and anecdotes of German everyday life, to histories that chronicle the country’s last tumultuous two hundred years, this is all you ever wanted to know about this European powerhouse and more.
1. Why Germans Do it Better by John Kampfner
Mixing personal journey and anecdote with compelling empirical
evidence, this is a critical and entertaining exploration of the country many in the West still love to hate. Raising important questions, Kampfner asks why despite its faults, Germany has become a model for others to emulate, while Britain fails to tackle contemporary challenges.
2. Genius, Power, and Magic: A Cultural History of Germany from Goethe to Wagner by Roderick Cavaliero
In this book, Roderick Cavaliero provides a fascinating overview of
Germany’s cultural zenith in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He considers the work of Germany’s own artistic exports – the literature of Goethe and Grimm, the music of Wagner, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Bach and the philosophy of Schiller and Kant – as well as the impact of Germany on foreign visitors from Coleridge to Thackeray.
3. Germania by Simon Winder
There are many reasons to be fascinated by Germany: forests,
architecture, and fairy tales, not to mention its history. This is a place in which innumerable strange characters have held power, and which at the dark heart of the 20th century fell into the hands of truly terrible forces. Simon Winder is here to tell us everything else there is to know about this mesmerizing, tortured and endlessly fascinating country.
4. Heimat: A German Family Album by Nora Krug
Seventeen years after leaving Germany for the US, Nora Krug decided she couldn’t know who she was without confronting where she’d come from. In Heimat, she documents her journey investigating the lives of her family members under the Nazi regime, visually charting her way back to a country still tainted by war. Beautifully illustrated and lyrically told, Heimat is a powerful meditation on the search for cultural identity, and the meaning of history and home.
5. Dawdling by the Danube by Edward Enfield
Edward Enfield sets off on this enjoyable cycling trip, carrying few
preconceptions but plenty of wit. Determining the route he should take from recommendations scrawled on a napkin, he follows the undulating ‘Romantic Road’ through the woods and cornfields of Bavaria. As Edward amply reveals in this charming book, there is no place from which to see a country that is nearly as good as the saddle of a bicycle.