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Germania

In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History
Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
Length: 18 hrs and 35 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)
Regular price: $29.95
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Publisher's Summary

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 audiobook 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?

Winder's audiobook 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 audiobook 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 audiobook 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.

©2010 Simon Winder (P)2018 Tantor

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Anecdotal approach to Germany's History

The author's refreshing approach to tackle the complexities and absurdities of German speaking central Europe's history is mostly very enjoyable, but at times annoyingly subjective, for example when he denounces its food - perhaps Mr Winder never enjoyed delicate Austrian cuisine or the Michelin-star laden restaurants in Germany's Black Forest region - or grudgingly shares episodes of provincial residence towns of micro-states that I thought couldn't be further diminished.

It covers the period from Tacitus' haughty Roman accounts of wild tribes almost accidentally inhabiting the barren swamps and forests of central Europe, having been stopped in their tracks when fleeing invading hordes and seeking greener pastures, to the end of the eccentric, but ill fated Weimar republic, shrewdly cutting off at 1933, with some epochal spillover that elegantly help tying back later observed peculiarities to preceding events.

His book is enjoyable as its collection of anecdotes and fun facts, loosely fitted into a chronological corset, remarkably mirrors the empires' patchwork of in parts very diverse domains that make this part of Europe so unique and to this day appealing. The ephemeral allegiances of its rulers and citizenry - after all there have been almost 100 imperial cities in one point in time or another that enjoyed an astonishing amount of collective liberties - across the empire, equally challenging for map makers as for governing.

One cannot help but walking away from this book loving the achievements, lampooning the quirks and lamenting the failures this diverse culture has bred.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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wow! this is the best book I've read (heard) in

Amazingly refreshing! Reverential and dismissive, it brings Germany to the table from so many perspectives.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Bravo!

An eclectic and somewhat eccentric look at German history. German history is not a easy topic to summarize in a book. It’s a history that is complicated and, let’s face it, somewhat dour. The author does review this history of this fascinating country will humor that only an Englishman could do. This is not a Lonely Planet guide to Germany but it is a great to understanding the nuances of Germany. A great piece of work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very Droll but Almost Entirely Uninformative

I bought this book for the German History it proclaimed to include. however it quickly became clear that the author was much more interested in using his dry wit to keep a travel journal. Vaugely set in historical order and with historical notes relating to places visited, the book is unburdened with the need to show any of the cause and effect so useful in understanding the past. prone to barely on topic tangents, the performance is well done and the deadpanned critiques insightful and entertaining but if you are looking for history you're wasting your time here.