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Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History

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Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A unique exploration of German Culture, from sausage advertisements to Wagner.

Sitting on a bench at a communal table in a restaurant in Regensburg, his plate loaded with disturbing amounts of bratwurst and sauerkraut made golden by candlelight shining through a massive glass of beer, Simon Winder was happily swinging his legs when a couple from Rottweil politely but awkwardly asked: "So: why are you here?"

This book is an attempt to answer that question. Why spend time wandering around a country that remains a sort of dead zone for many foreigners, surrounded as it is by a force field of historical, linguistic, climatic, and gastronomic barriers? Winders book is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.

Germania is a very funny book on serious topics — how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.

Review:

“Wonderful — very witty and highly entertaining, splendidly and amusingly opinionated, marvelously colorful in its descriptions of unusual places and little known people, and full of enjoyable insights into German history and culture.” Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: A Biography

Review:

“Winder is perhaps the first to have succeeded in presenting Germany as no less fun that France or Italy and the Germans as a nation of eccentrics very like our own . . . He excels in a style that he self-deprecatingly calls ‘anecdotal facetiousness but which manages to convey copious quantities of facts in the most enjoyable way possible.” Evening Standard

Review:

“Its plain that Winders mind is fizzing with interesting ideas. He can write beautifully, embodying a whole world in a phrase . . . He finds new angles on familiar subjects . . . His excitement is beguiling and infectious; hes widely read, good-humoured and — a wonderful asset in writing this book — utterly lacking an axe to sharpen on the subject of the Second World War . . . There are many pleasures to be savoured in Germania . . . gems that make Winders clever, rambunctious work a book to treasure.” Miranda Seymour, Literary Review

Review:

“Travelogue and historical narrative are merged in a gloriously free-wheeling narrative of the entire sweep of German history . . . This book is clearly not intended to be the last word on German history. But for any readers wanting a learned, entertaining and lucid introduction to a notoriously complex subject, it should certainly be their first.” Seven Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph

Review:

“Entertaining and informative... Delightful” Philip Hensher, The Independent

Review:

“A beautifully written and insightful book . . . It can only be hoped that it will be read by many and that it will be recognized for what it is: a witty, thought-provoking account of Germany's various histories, cultures and oddities.” The Irish Times

Review:

“Best to follow Winder on his rambles as you'd follow a favourite uncle who knows lots about lots of apparently random things . . . He is most engaging and sporadically wise . . . Winders mind is a very agreeable place to go rambling.” The Scotsman

Review:

“His rich and broadly chronological history of Germany and its peoples is minutely researched. Interspersed in the narrative, however, are the deliciously opinionated, often hilarious and occasionally vituperative reminiscences of the authors many excursions to Germany and Austria. They make the book. The love-hate nature of his relationship with his subject brings out the best in his writing . . . It is the kind of knockabout humour that has British readers rolling while Germans smile politely but a little uncomprehendingly . . . A splendid offering.” Hugh Mortimer, Financial Times

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

Germania is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild. A very funny book on serious topics---how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape, and “a book you will return to time and again” (The Florida Times-Union).

Synopsis:

A UNIQUE EXPLORATION OF GERMAN CULTURE, FROM SAUSAGE ADVERTISEMENTS TO WAGNER

Sitting on a bench at a communal table in a restaurant in Regensburg, his plate loaded with disturbing amounts of bratwurst and sauerkraut made golden by candlelight shining through a massive glass of beer, Simon Winder was happily swinging his legs when a couple from Rottweil politely but awkwardly asked: “So: why are you here?”

This book is an attempt to answer that question. Why spend time wandering around a country that remains a sort of dead zone for many foreigners, surrounded as it is by a force field of historical, linguistic, climatic, and gastronomic barriers? Winders book is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.

Germania is a very funny book on serious topics—how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.

Simon Winder is the author of the highly praised The Man Who Saved Britain and works in publishing in London.

Sitting on a bench at a communal table in a restaurant in Regensburg, his plate loaded with bratwurst and sauerkraut made golden by candlelight shining through a massive glass of beer, Simon Winder was happily swinging his legs when a couple from Rottweil politely but awkwardly asked: “So: why are you here?”

In this travels through Germany, Simon Winder tries to understand why foreigners spend time wandering around a country with such historical, linguistic, climatic, and gastronomic barriers. Winders book is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic and endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.

Germania is an entertaining investigation of serious topics—how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and strange videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.

“Simon Winder has spent more than enough time in Germany to catch the bug, that virus that turns even innocent tourists into amateur anthropologists, desperate to figure out just how the Germans got that way . . . Winder has a severe case, but luckily, he's a smart, witty fellow with a knack for finding the threads that connect patches of the crazy quilt that is German history.”—Marc Fisher, The Washington Post

“Wonderful—very witty and highly entertaining, splendidly and amusingly opinionated, marvellously colourful in its descriptions of unusual places and little known people, and full of enjoyable insights into German history and culture.”—Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: A Biography

“Winder is perhaps the first to have succeeded in presenting Germany as no less fun that France or Italy and the Germans as a nation of eccentrics very like our own . . . He excels in a style that he self-deprecatingly calls ‘anecdotal facetiousness but which manages to convey copious quantities of facts in the most enjoyable way possible.”—The London Evening Standard

“Its plain that Winders mind is fizzing with interesting ideas. He can write beautifully, embodying a whole world in a phrase . . . He finds new angles on familiar subjects . . . His excitement is beguiling and infectious; hes widely read, good-humoured and—a wonderful asset in writing this book—utterly lacking an axe to sharpen on the subject of the Second World War . . . There are many pleasures to be savoured in Germania . . . gems that make Winders clever, rambunctious work a book to treasure.” —Miranda Seymour, Literary Review

“This book is the chronicle of a ­passion. It is also an engrossing, informative and hilarious read. He has spun an enthralling weave of travelogue, anecdote and historical mock-epic. What is often most engaging about these encounters is the spectacle of Winder himself. It made me laugh so hard that I woke up my wife and had to give up reading the book in bed. If Bill Bryson had collaborated with W. G. Sebald to write a book about Germany, they might have wound up with something like this. Winders extravagant mixing of genres allows him to seek historical depth without sacrificing the pleasures of anecdote. There is a serious purpose behind all the playfulness.”—Christopher Clark, The Sunday Times (London)

“His rich and broadly chronological history of Germany and its peoples is minutely researched. Interspersed in the narrative, however, are the deliciously opinionated, often hilarious and occasionally vituperative reminiscences of the authors many excursions to Germany and Austria. They make the book. The love-hate nature of his relationship with his subject brings out the best in his writing . . . It is the kind of knockabout humour that has British readers rolling while Germans smile politely but a little uncomprehendingly . . . A splendid offering.”—Hugh Mortimer, Financial Times (UK)

“Simon Winder peppers his meaty tome with quirky digressions, anecdotes and memories, revealing intriguing insights about Germany, from its cuisine to its architecture, people and history.”—ABTA Magazine

“Travelogue and historical narrative are merged in a gloriously free-wheeling narrative of the entire sweep of German history . . . This book is clearly not intended to be the last word on German history. But for any readers wanting a learned, entertaining and lucid introduction to a notoriously complex subject, it should certainly be their first.”—Seven Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph

“This candid, cheerful and idiosyncratic approach to travelogue makes a refreshing change. Whether being stridently critical or puppyishly enthusiastic, Winder is a master of the well-turned phrase or the unexpected insight.”—The Times (London)

“Best to follow Winder on his rambles as youd follow a favourite uncle who knows lots about lots of apparently random things . . . He is most engaging and sporadically wise . . . Winders mind is a very agreeable place to go rambling.”—The Scotsman

“Entertaining and informative... Delightful”—Philip Hensher, The Independent

“A beautifully written and insightful book . . . It can only be hoped that it will be read by many and that it will be recognised for what it is: a witty, thought-provoking account of Germanys various histories, cultures and oddities.”—The Irish Times

“A cheerful, dryly unserious survey and travelogue through the landscape and psyche of Germany. British writer Winder (The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond, 2006) slips as giddily into discussing the ravages of the Thirty Years' War as the awfulness of German cuisine, the pogroms that seized German towns in the wake of the Napoleonic wars as the family tree of the Hohenzollerns. The author works with a meandering, loose chronology, beginning with the fantasy of ancient Germania as ‘a land of forest and personal freedom and ending after World War II, when the incomparable richness of German history and achievement was ‘replaced with messianic infantilism. Winder explains that first visiting Strasbourg cathedral as a young teen awakened his awareness of ‘an aesthetic sense, and that he has been fascinated by Germany as Britain's ‘weird twin ever since. As a Brit, he has been inculcated in the horrors of German militarism, which since World War I essentially shuttered all intellectual and cultural curiosity about its golden prewar years, once ‘an intolerably poignant place depicted in Thomas Mann's early novels, now a ‘sort of dead zone. The author makes a dogged, gracious attempt to re-engage with what is remarkable about Germany, or at least interesting and moving, even in its grotesqueness—often in the manner of W.G. Sebald, whom Winder evidently reveres. In his travels, Winder has galloped across the countryside in search of the German echt and on the way stopped at every notable castle, cathedral, walled town and bulky monument from Aachen to Wittenberg . . . Charmingly illuminative . . . he offers an impressive discussion of the shattering effects of World War I, both on Germany and the world. A nimble and knowledgeable . . . cabinet of curiosities.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Simon Winder has spent far too much time in Germany, denying himself a lot of sunshine and fresh fruit just to write this book. He is the author of the highly praised The Man Who Saved Britain (FSG, 2006) and works in publishing in London.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374254001
Subtitle:
In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author:
Winder, Simon
Subject:
Europe - Germany
Subject:
Western Europe - General
Subject:
National characteristics, german
Subject:
Germany Civilization.
Subject:
Germany
Subject:
Europe - Western
Subject:
World History-Germany
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100316
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 2 maps and 17 bandw photos thro
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » General
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 480 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374254001 Reviews:
"Review" by , “Wonderful — very witty and highly entertaining, splendidly and amusingly opinionated, marvelously colorful in its descriptions of unusual places and little known people, and full of enjoyable insights into German history and culture.”
"Review" by , “Winder is perhaps the first to have succeeded in presenting Germany as no less fun that France or Italy and the Germans as a nation of eccentrics very like our own . . . He excels in a style that he self-deprecatingly calls ‘anecdotal facetiousness but which manages to convey copious quantities of facts in the most enjoyable way possible.”
"Review" by , “Its plain that Winders mind is fizzing with interesting ideas. He can write beautifully, embodying a whole world in a phrase . . . He finds new angles on familiar subjects . . . His excitement is beguiling and infectious; hes widely read, good-humoured and — a wonderful asset in writing this book — utterly lacking an axe to sharpen on the subject of the Second World War . . . There are many pleasures to be savoured in Germania . . . gems that make Winders clever, rambunctious work a book to treasure.”
"Review" by , “Travelogue and historical narrative are merged in a gloriously free-wheeling narrative of the entire sweep of German history . . . This book is clearly not intended to be the last word on German history. But for any readers wanting a learned, entertaining and lucid introduction to a notoriously complex subject, it should certainly be their first.”
"Review" by , “Entertaining and informative... Delightful”
"Review" by , “A beautifully written and insightful book . . . It can only be hoped that it will be read by many and that it will be recognized for what it is: a witty, thought-provoking account of Germany's various histories, cultures and oddities.”
"Review" by , “Best to follow Winder on his rambles as you'd follow a favourite uncle who knows lots about lots of apparently random things . . . He is most engaging and sporadically wise . . . Winders mind is a very agreeable place to go rambling.”
"Review" by , “His rich and broadly chronological history of Germany and its peoples is minutely researched. Interspersed in the narrative, however, are the deliciously opinionated, often hilarious and occasionally vituperative reminiscences of the authors many excursions to Germany and Austria. They make the book. The love-hate nature of his relationship with his subject brings out the best in his writing . . . It is the kind of knockabout humour that has British readers rolling while Germans smile politely but a little uncomprehendingly . . . A splendid offering.”
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by ,

Germania is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild. A very funny book on serious topics---how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape, and “a book you will return to time and again” (The Florida Times-Union).

"Synopsis" by ,
A UNIQUE EXPLORATION OF GERMAN CULTURE, FROM SAUSAGE ADVERTISEMENTS TO WAGNER

Sitting on a bench at a communal table in a restaurant in Regensburg, his plate loaded with disturbing amounts of bratwurst and sauerkraut made golden by candlelight shining through a massive glass of beer, Simon Winder was happily swinging his legs when a couple from Rottweil politely but awkwardly asked: “So: why are you here?”

This book is an attempt to answer that question. Why spend time wandering around a country that remains a sort of dead zone for many foreigners, surrounded as it is by a force field of historical, linguistic, climatic, and gastronomic barriers? Winders book is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.

Germania is a very funny book on serious topics—how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.

Simon Winder is the author of the highly praised The Man Who Saved Britain and works in publishing in London.

Sitting on a bench at a communal table in a restaurant in Regensburg, his plate loaded with bratwurst and sauerkraut made golden by candlelight shining through a massive glass of beer, Simon Winder was happily swinging his legs when a couple from Rottweil politely but awkwardly asked: “So: why are you here?”

In this travels through Germany, Simon Winder tries to understand why foreigners spend time wandering around a country with such historical, linguistic, climatic, and gastronomic barriers. Winders book is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic and endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild.

Germania is an entertaining investigation of serious topics—how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and strange videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape.

“Simon Winder has spent more than enough time in Germany to catch the bug, that virus that turns even innocent tourists into amateur anthropologists, desperate to figure out just how the Germans got that way . . . Winder has a severe case, but luckily, he's a smart, witty fellow with a knack for finding the threads that connect patches of the crazy quilt that is German history.”—Marc Fisher, The Washington Post

“Wonderful—very witty and highly entertaining, splendidly and amusingly opinionated, marvellously colourful in its descriptions of unusual places and little known people, and full of enjoyable insights into German history and culture.”—Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler: A Biography

“Winder is perhaps the first to have succeeded in presenting Germany as no less fun that France or Italy and the Germans as a nation of eccentrics very like our own . . . He excels in a style that he self-deprecatingly calls ‘anecdotal facetiousness but which manages to convey copious quantities of facts in the most enjoyable way possible.”—The London Evening Standard

“Its plain that Winders mind is fizzing with interesting ideas. He can write beautifully, embodying a whole world in a phrase . . . He finds new angles on familiar subjects . . . His excitement is beguiling and infectious; hes widely read, good-humoured and—a wonderful asset in writing this book—utterly lacking an axe to sharpen on the subject of the Second World War . . . There are many pleasures to be savoured in Germania . . . gems that make Winders clever, rambunctious work a book to treasure.” —Miranda Seymour, Literary Review

“This book is the chronicle of a ­passion. It is also an engrossing, informative and hilarious read. He has spun an enthralling weave of travelogue, anecdote and historical mock-epic. What is often most engaging about these encounters is the spectacle of Winder himself. It made me laugh so hard that I woke up my wife and had to give up reading the book in bed. If Bill Bryson had collaborated with W. G. Sebald to write a book about Germany, they might have wound up with something like this. Winders extravagant mixing of genres allows him to seek historical depth without sacrificing the pleasures of anecdote. There is a serious purpose behind all the playfulness.”—Christopher Clark, The Sunday Times (London)

“His rich and broadly chronological history of Germany and its peoples is minutely researched. Interspersed in the narrative, however, are the deliciously opinionated, often hilarious and occasionally vituperative reminiscences of the authors many excursions to Germany and Austria. They make the book. The love-hate nature of his relationship with his subject brings out the best in his writing . . . It is the kind of knockabout humour that has British readers rolling while Germans smile politely but a little uncomprehendingly . . . A splendid offering.”—Hugh Mortimer, Financial Times (UK)

“Simon Winder peppers his meaty tome with quirky digressions, anecdotes and memories, revealing intriguing insights about Germany, from its cuisine to its architecture, people and history.”—ABTA Magazine

“Travelogue and historical narrative are merged in a gloriously free-wheeling narrative of the entire sweep of German history . . . This book is clearly not intended to be the last word on German history. But for any readers wanting a learned, entertaining and lucid introduction to a notoriously complex subject, it should certainly be their first.”—Seven Magazine, The Sunday Telegraph

“This candid, cheerful and idiosyncratic approach to travelogue makes a refreshing change. Whether being stridently critical or puppyishly enthusiastic, Winder is a master of the well-turned phrase or the unexpected insight.”—The Times (London)

“Best to follow Winder on his rambles as youd follow a favourite uncle who knows lots about lots of apparently random things . . . He is most engaging and sporadically wise . . . Winders mind is a very agreeable place to go rambling.”—The Scotsman

“Entertaining and informative... Delightful”—Philip Hensher, The Independent

“A beautifully written and insightful book . . . It can only be hoped that it will be read by many and that it will be recognised for what it is: a witty, thought-provoking account of Germanys various histories, cultures and oddities.”—The Irish Times

“A cheerful, dryly unserious survey and travelogue through the landscape and psyche of Germany. British writer Winder (The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond, 2006) slips as giddily into discussing the ravages of the Thirty Years' War as the awfulness of German cuisine, the pogroms that seized German towns in the wake of the Napoleonic wars as the family tree of the Hohenzollerns. The author works with a meandering, loose chronology, beginning with the fantasy of ancient Germania as ‘a land of forest and personal freedom and ending after World War II, when the incomparable richness of German history and achievement was ‘replaced with messianic infantilism. Winder explains that first visiting Strasbourg cathedral as a young teen awakened his awareness of ‘an aesthetic sense, and that he has been fascinated by Germany as Britain's ‘weird twin ever since. As a Brit, he has been inculcated in the horrors of German militarism, which since World War I essentially shuttered all intellectual and cultural curiosity about its golden prewar years, once ‘an intolerably poignant place depicted in Thomas Mann's early novels, now a ‘sort of dead zone. The author makes a dogged, gracious attempt to re-engage with what is remarkable about Germany, or at least interesting and moving, even in its grotesqueness—often in the manner of W.G. Sebald, whom Winder evidently reveres. In his travels, Winder has galloped across the countryside in search of the German echt and on the way stopped at every notable castle, cathedral, walled town and bulky monument from Aachen to Wittenberg . . . Charmingly illuminative . . . he offers an impressive discussion of the shattering effects of World War I, both on Germany and the world. A nimble and knowledgeable . . . cabinet of curiosities.”—Kirkus Reviews

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