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An excellent book overall
am 21. Dezember 2011
Germany is a complex country, the name itself only came to mean what it means on a map today not even 200 years ago. German culture is a complex jig-saw of various and extremely varied regional cultures. German history is just as deep and complicated to learn for the outsider. What Simon Winder attempts here is a colossal enterprise: resume more than 2000 years of history, give the reader insights into the diversity of what is "German", and at the same time, keep it entertaining enough. I personally think I did this with success: I am myself a big fan of Germany and this book gave me a really good overview of the history, bits of it I had never heard of. I like the "travel diary" style of it sometimes: " as I was going through this city", " as I stopped into this museum..." It gives you an alternative view to guide books, history books, and general text books on this beautiful countries. However, I would say the reader needs to be already familiar with Germany in order to see with an objective eye the comments of the author. For instance, he is quite virulent against Ludwig II of Bavaria and his very famous castle of Neuschwanstein, calling it something of an architectural atrocity... Well, having been to Bavaria many times and seen the above mentioned castle with my own eyes, I am forced to - quite strongly -disagree with Mr Winder. Of course everyone will have to build their own opinion of what they read and see, but I find the author expresses his own a bit too strongly sometimes.
Apart from this, and a few passages which lacked a certain dynamism in the narrative flow, this book ranks among my favourites and I have added many "to do"s and "to see"s in Germany on my list of future travels. Danke, Herr Winder !