In one concise volume, Hagen Schulze brilliantly conveys the full sweep of German history, from the days of the Romans to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A story two thousand years in the making, it rings with battle, murmurs with intrigue, and hums with the music of everyday life. This richly various legacy, often overshadowed and distorted by the nation's recent past, offers a hopeful answer to the perennial question of what kind of country Germany is and will be.
From the revolt of the indigenous tribes against Roman domination, Schulze leads us through the events that have defined a nation at the center of European culture--the Thirty Years' War and the decline of the Holy Roman Empire, Luther's Reformation and Bismarck's attendance at the birth of modern Germany, the Great War and its aftermath, the nationalistic megalomania under Hitler, the division of the nation after World War II and its reunification. Throughout, we see what these developments have meant for the German people, in the arena of private life and on the stage of world history. A lavish array of illustrations provides a lively counterpoint to Schulze's elegantly written narrative.
As it follows the threads of German language, nationalism, and culture to the present day, this dramatic account provides ample reassurance that recent history will not repeat itself. Germany: A New History will prove indispensable to our understanding of Germany, past and present, and the future of Europe.
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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