Cover Image: The Shortest History of Germany

The Shortest History of Germany

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Member Reviews

With a keen interest in history, family, history and Germany this book ticks all the boxes.  Great book for all.
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Useful information, especially for someone not used with the overload of historical information. It goes smoothly from a century to another, dealing in a very easy way with dramatic events. It's a recommended read also if you prepare for your German citizenship test, as it offers quite a lot of details that might be useful for passing it.
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I really enjoyed the first few chapters but could not continue due to download issues.. Non-fiction is not something hat I normally read but I found this book really engaging and interesting.
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I love a fast, easy nonfiction read, but this one felt a little rushed to me; it has a textbook-like scope (and in fact reads like a textbook by and large) but doesn't hit everything with a ton of detail. That said, I found the geopolitical focus and argument that Germany's perpetual disunity, particularly regarding its East-Elban region, unique and interesting. I just wish the book had honed in more on this argument instead of trying to be a comprehensive survey of German history. And while we know from the intro that this book is ultimately making a political argument, it passes off multiple value judgments as fact, particularly in its depiction of the Church/state relationship in the Middle Ages (Pope Leo's rebuilding of St. Peter's simply to keep control over the HRE, for instance, feels like a stretch). I hoped for a little more flavor in the narrative, and while it drops the occasional joke or clever turn of phrase, it's not the most riveting prose. The maps and primary documents are integrated well into the narrative and add a lot to the book. I especially appreciated the equations/diagrams explaining cause and effect on the German political scene. Good, but not a standout.
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Looks at the history of Germany in a completely neutral manner, which in a world of ours where polemical literature is fast becoming a norm, is something hard to come by. What surprised me a bit is its length (300 odd pages) and of that, quite a bit are detailed maps and diagrams. It might not suit a professional history buff but for any layman, this would surely whet their appetite for German history!

My rating - 4/5
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Where was this book when I was studying for my German degree? It would have made four years' worth of studying dates and names a breeze. Concise and well laid out, The Shortest History of Germany is a title history, German buffs, and beyond need at their disposal!
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I was not able to read this book as I only read e books on my books. I just can't read a whole book on a computer as it's too hard on my eyes. The book sounds interesting though. I will look for it in print after it is published.
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With a neutral point of view, this is a complete reference book about Germanic's history. The author is able to narrate the most important facts in less than 300 pages which is impressive. Also, James supported his content with over 100 maps, images, and diagrams. This book should be at every school library at any level from high school to universities. 

#TheShortestHistoryOfGermany #NetGalley
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A fascinating, page turning look at the complicated history of Germany. The gold, the bad, and the ugly.
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When I saw this book, I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the history of Germany. Disappointment set in almost from the moment I opened the book. Non-existent documentation, an overly familiar writing style, and blatant political bias plagued the account. In a small book such as this, one expects superficial treatment; however, the author's biases seem to drive what he glosses over and what he treats more in-depth. The author needs to return to writing fiction and refrain from non-fiction unless he plans to document his work and ignore his own biases. I received an advance electronic copy through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review. The book's index was not included in the version I read.
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Was curious to know more about the history of the fatherland of my grandparents, but sadly this was not exactly what I was looking for. A lot of opinion, which is natural, but considering the book is only a little over 200 pages, it is hard to go in-depth when it tries to cover 2,000 years. The title tells it will be short, but seriously? this could have easier to read in 3-4 volumes. Also, the charts and maps were a little hard to read, and since it is not available for the kindle I had to view it on the computer, which made it more complex as well. Parts were good, and I did learn a few things, especially about modern Germany, The details and battles back with the Romans didn't seem as interesting. Would recommend, but wish it was more of a book about post-WWII.
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This short history is generally better than most small volumes of history that I've read. It covers most everything, albeit briefly as the title suggests, major in German history from Caesar to Merkel. The author is authoritative and it is generally well researched. The maps are relatively bland and somewhat dumbed down but they are generally good at getting Mr. Hawes' point across. After some of the other abysmal "concise" and "short" histories I've read, cheaply and quickly made seemingly just for a quick buck, the quality of this work is enough to earn it three stars.

Unfortunately, it is also deeply mired in the author's insistence that "Germany" really ends at the Elbe River, and anything east of the river is a despotic, barbaric colonial state. All of Germany's problems from the last two thousand years seem to stem from "East Elbia" as he quite often refers to it. Some of these accusations are true, such as Prussia founding modern Germany by the sword and in a way that gave Prussia dominance over the second Reich. Others are less convincing, like Roman rule solidifying western Germany with "the West" and that being the origin of modern west German liberalism. Nazis are also broadly placed at the feet of "East Elbia" and any resistance mentioned is largely from Catholic south east. Even the handful of German officers who attempted to kill Hitler are generally dismissed as weak amateurs. The East German communist state of the Cold War only gets its secret police and undue artistic credit mentioned before it drags Germany back down with its primitive, stunted ways. The last map is telling of Mr. Hawes' view. It shows a German state with everything east of the Elbe chopped off, amidst an argument that seems centered on dropping that half of the country flat on its face so a proper Germany can take its rightful place as a trully western nation.

There are also quite a few horribly simplistic charts in the book that basically restate what the author just said...but now in chart form!

Overall this is certainly a well written work, for what it is as a condensed two millennia history. Just keep in mind that you'll have to wade through a heavy dose of negative "East Elbia" rhetoric. Also, just skip over the charts.
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At a time when falsehood and mythology have seemingly usurped facts and reason, where fake news and propaganda masquerading as news is all around us and where experts are derided and ignored it is up to the ordinary citizen to not only base their judgments on evidenced based analysis but also to question some of their existing beliefs and assumed knowledge. This is particularly relevant with the studying of history. I know from my schooldays fifty some years ago that our introduction to German history did not commence until 1866 and was almost exclusively devoted to wars and the portraying of the country as a continuing existentialist threat to Britain and its empire. Why this should be was never really explained. Also there was never any teaching regarding how important and integral a part Germania played in the Roman Empire, the Germans becoming its most favoured military recruits, how Charlemagne dragged Europe out of the Dark Ages and the vital medieval trading links England and Scotland had with the Hansa and Rhineland merchants. 

The book in little more than two hundred pages (which I found quite unputdownable finishing it in a couple of sittings) will give the average reader a greater understanding of this great country. Alongside the narrative are photographs, drawings, cartoons and most importantly maps for integral to understanding German history is an appreciation of the role that its ever changing borders particularly on its eastern side have played.

However the book is not just a restating of historic facts but also a polemical wok for its central thesis is that Germany is in essence two separate entities, historically, culturally, politically, religiously and emotionally. One being remarkably similar to Germania planned by Caesar Augustus and the other being that geographically placed east of the Elbe which historically was defined as Prussia. James Hawes refers to these two entities as Germany and East Elbia. The first would be western looking with a view to modernity and that things are run properly and the second would look eastward being in a constant fear of the integrity and positioning of its borders against the threat of Slav and in particular Polish nationalism and an overriding need to defeat Russia before it is too late. Certainly if you look at voting patterns whether in the early 1930's or in the present day the extremes of both right and left have gained and continue to gain most of their votes in the east. 

According to Hawes our view of German history has been woefully distorted by looking at it through the prism of Prussian history which is in many ways contradictory to what is the real outward looking, progressive and liberal democratic Germany that is increasingly becoming a beacon of light in an increasingly authoritarian world. It is like viewing the history of the USA only through its southern states. Whether Hawes thesis is correct will I think require the reader to undertake further research and to gain the perspectives of German historians and commentators.

A fascinating read that hopefully will generate further reading and remedy ignorance and falsehood.
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This is not an history book. is propaganda. It is based on some crazy idea of the author and I am wondering how could a publisher decided that it was worthy.  I gave up after a while because there seemed to be no point in keep on reading rubbish,

Thanks Netgalley for the preview
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