In a pithy, concisely written text, Hagen Schulze chronicles Germany's often spotted historical past from the time of the nomadic Nordic tribes who migrated South into the Roman Empire to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, offering the past as a pretext for what he considers a new history yet unfolding. Consciously written for the general reader with little or no knowledge of German history, Schulze's account reads easily (superbly translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider), combining historical detail with broader analysis and consistently placing the German historical moment within a global context.
In his chronicle of Wilhelmine Germany, the period from 1890 to 1914, Schulze skillfully outlines details of political events both inside Germany and throughout Europe, then illustrates how they delineate a turning point from the precarious political order previously maintained by Bismarck. He interweaves this political narrative with analysis of social, economic, and cultural events of the era: the legacy of Prussian militarism, the rise of industrial and agricultural unions, the disillusionment of German youth with the rise of industrialism, German advances in scientific research, musical developments by Wagner and Brahms, the theatrical productions of Gerhard Hauptmann and Georg Kaiser, and the growing intellectual influence of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Freud. Supplemented by relevant photos and suggestions for further reading, Schulze's account provides the reader with a concise, accurate, and well-balanced presentation of the pre-war period, exemplifying a consistently balanced approach throughout the text. --Bertina Loeffler
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In Germany: A New History, Hagen Schulze, an expert on the rise of German nationalism, has given us a concise summary of the story of the warlike tribes situated east of the Rhine and of their descendants up to the present day. But throughout this accessible survey of German history--which is punctuated by splendidly reproduced works of art--the author focuses on a key question: "Who are the Germans?" His answer, which sets this book apart from other general histories, emphasizes just how recently the identity of that group has developed...Germany: A New History is printed on art-book stock and contains 56 color illustrations and 59 halftones from the German Historical Museum in Berlin. These range from a panoramic painting of the 1683 siege of Vienna to paintings and propaganda art of the 1940s to more recent adverstisements and photos. Lengthy captions describe the contents and significance of most of these works. -- John E. Pluenneke Business Week [Schulze] march[es] briskly through the centuries to produce a highly engaging, compact volume that shouldn't scare off general readers...He has produced a lucid primer that is a valuable addition to a field crowded with dense, specialized volumes. Mark Twain once explained that he was writing a long letter because he didn't have the time to write a short one. Schulze clearly had the time, and used it well. -- Andrew Nagobski Washington Post Book World The virtues of the book...include both reliability and brevity. The text runs to 340 pages, but is so lavishly illustrated that nearly 100 of those pages are taken up with pictures and their captions. A summary of the whole of German history in 240-odd pages of words can give a valuable bird's-eye view...[Schulze] argues powerfully that today's Germany is unlike any of the Germanys of the past, that it can and should become a "normal" nation-state. -- Noel Malcolm Sunday Telegraph [Hagen Schulze provides] a clear summary of the major political, social and intellectual developments that shaped a nation...His overview of German culture is a model of clarity and perception. Moreover, his willingness to examine the fundamental, and often ambiguous, nature of German society is to be applauded, as is whole-hearted rejection of the vision of a Germany based around a single purpose or set of common values...This remains an impressive and well-conceived work which will no doubt inform and entertain for years to come. -- John Callow Tribune Schulze admirably succeeds in providing a concise overview of 2,000 years of German history...For informed general readers who wish to broaden their knowledge of European history, Schulze's well-organized and easily digested account will be ideal. -- Jay Freeman Booklist Schulze projects the 19th-century idea of Germany as a "delayed nation" on German history as a whole--an effective leitmotif for this balanced and beautifully written book. The narrative moves comfortably through the archaic principles of the Holy Roman Empire, the emergence of a Pan-German identity, the lack of "inner ties" within the Kaiser's empire, and the 'inner stability' of the Federal Republic. This view correctly emphasizes the country's social and economic transformation without neglecting Germany's larger European context...The author's grasp of historical possibility makes credible his concluding assertions about the "fundamental" differences between today's Germany and its earlier versions. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. -- Zachary T. Irwin Library Journal