Saturday, June 23, 2007

Five best: books about Germany & Germans

Steven Ozment is a professor of ancient and modern history at Harvard University. His most recent book is A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People.

He selected five books that "excel in their portraits of Germany and the German people" for Opinion Journal.

One title to make the list:

The Origins of Modern Germany by Geoffrey Barraclough (Blackwell, 1946).

In a robust history of the German Middle Ages, Geoffrey Barraclough traces Germany's geographic and political fragmentation over 12 centuries (800-1939). It turns out that the most difficult problem in German history was not the rise of National Socialism, whose existence (1920-45) was relatively brief, but the long struggle to arrive at political unity and, eventually, representative government. The failure of Germans to unify their medieval empire, according to Barraclough, is "a story of discontinuity, of development cut short, of incompleteness and retardation." It was only with German reunification in 1990 that the problem was solved, and by the formula that Barraclough prescribed: "a limited democratic Germany within historic boundaries."

Read about the book that topped Ozment's list.

--Marshal Zeringue