Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten of the best books on Germans and Germany

Steve Kettmann, an American living in Berlin since 1999, is the author, co-author or editor of eight books, including four New York Times best-sellers. He has written a weekly column for East Berlin's Berliner Zeitung and is now at work on a memoir about German-American and German identity.

One of his recommended books about Germany and Germans--"in which neither the word 'Third' nor 'Reich' figures prominently and one finds nary a reference to that failed artist from Linz, Austria"--as told to The Daily Beast:
Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall, by Anna Funder

Anna Funder started studying German back in Australia, much to the chagrin of her parents, who found the language coarse and disturbing, but she continued and moved to Berlin to study in the years after the wall came down. She had a fascination with East Germany shared by many others who moved to Berlin in those years, but took it farther than most, and the portraits she sketches of the people left behind by the political change have been celebrated by both Germans and non-Germans as offering a deeper look. Still, this is also her book, in which her voice is strong, and one theme is how in looking for others we hope to find ourselves. Sample: “I first visited in Leipzig in 1994, nearly five years after the Wall fell in November 1989. East Germany still felt like a secret walled-in garden, a place lost in time. It wouldn't have surprised me if things had tasted different here—apples like pears, say, or wine like blood.”
Read about another book on Kettmann's list.

Also see, Steve Ozment's five best books about Germany & Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue