READ IN AN AFTERNOON. REMEMBER FOR A LIFETIME.
The West is in full retreat. The Anglo-Saxon powers, great and small, withdraw into fantasies of lost greatness. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver — and everyone looks to Berlin. But are the Germans really us, or them? This question has haunted Europe ever since Julius Caesar invented the Germani in 58 BC.
How Roman did Germania ever become? Did the Germans destroy the culture of Rome, or inherit it? When did they first drive east, and did they ever truly rule there? How did Germany become, for centuries, a power-vacuum at the heart of Europe? How was Prussia born? Did Bismarck unify Germany or conquer it? Where are the roots of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich? Why did it lose? By what miracle did a better Germany arise from the rubble? Is Germany now the last Western bastion of industrial prosperity and rational politics? Or are the EU and the Euro merely window-dressing for a new German hegemony?
This fresh, illuminating and concise new history makes sense of Europe’s most admired and feared country. It’s time for the real story of Germany.
As an infant, James Hawes was often pushed in his pram by the sister of the great German historian and newspaper-editor, Joachim C. Fest; he read German at Oxford, then did a PhD in German at UCL, where his mother had also read German. He is married to a Prussian aristocrat whose family lands were so far east they are now, unfortunately, in Russia. He has published a biography of Kafka (“Absolutely brilliant and utterly infuriating” – Guardian) and “Englanders & Huns”, the real story of the fatal Anglo-German antagonism (“full of enlightening surprises” – The Times). In May-August 2015 the Bonn City Museum hosted a major exhibition based on his rediscovery of the tale of how Queen Victoria’s cook was slain by Bismarck’s future son-in-law designate in Bonn in 1865.