Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History

Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History - Simon Winder I've never found European History all that interesting, it always seems to dwell on France and Italy (which are a bit dull really), and apart from the obvious 20th century madness, I've not known much about Germany. Simon Winder corrects this omission with Germania – as a Germanophile it is difficult not to be pulled into Winder's enthusiasm for the German collection of states, principalities and dukedoms.

While no book about German history can avoid the Nazi's, Winder, rightly in my view, decides to cut off book in 1933, avoiding the worst aspects of Nazism, and allowing himself to concentrate on art, history up to that point, and quaint towns and museums dotted around the German speaking world. At times the seriousness of the matter subdues the irreverent and humourous tales, however the balance of serious and amusing is about right.

While Winder is not a historian as such, this is maybe a bonus, since his writing is very accessible (unlike a lot of historians...) and although the narrative jumps around a bit, it tends to stick to a vaguely chronological order, filling in the history as Winder travels around Germany and bits that used to be Germany.

Overall it is a sympathetic view of a country which has had a hard time of it in the 20th century (along with the rest of Europe), not all of it of it's own doing. If this book had been written earlier it may not have been as forgiving as it is, and may not have been as well received, but as it is, it is an amusing, yet serious look into the making of modern Germany which has at least fired an interest in me to find out more about this European country.