The Shortest History of Germany ★★★½
Genre(s) | Nonfiction, Germany
Goodreads Rating | 3.86
Humpo Show Rating | 3.70
Publisher: Old Street Publishing (2018 edition)
Covering everything from Charlemagne, Martin Luther, Otto von Bismarck and Adolf Hitler, to the Reformation, Prussia, First World War and the Berlin Wall, The Shortest History of Germany is a breezy visit through German events, monarchies, politics and geography.
Structured in a clear and wide-ranging manner – necessary due to covering a couple of thousand years in less than 300 pages – but Hawes manages it well, and makes good use of text, images, maps and box-outs. This is a good book for introducing someone with limited knowledge of German history to the plethora of events that have occurred in the nation. There are some periods or events in history that many have some knowledge of: the Reformation, and both world wars; but there are others that aren’t traditionally covered in education that covered in this small volume.
Having read reviews on Goodreads prior to reading Hawes’ short history, I took some of his personal comments and emphasis with a pinch of salt. There is a definite emphasis on the East Elbian influence in the country and Hawes does focus in on the region being on the wrong side of history. If you want a book to act as an introduction to Germany then it is perfect, but if you want a legitimate source for unbiased research then perhaps this isn’t the book for you.
I enjoyed reading about Martin Luther, Prussia and the twentieth century. I had little-to-none knowledge of the history of Prussia – in the UK, most European history taught in schools focuses on the Second World War. So, by having plenty of pages dedicated to the figures, events and politics of Prussia, I have been able to fill in a gap of knowledge that I had.
The release of the 2018 paperback edition coincided quite well for me, as I am off on a trip to Berlin this month, so I have learned a bit more about the country I am visiting. Hopefully I can put some of this newly-acquired knowledge to good use when visiting places like the Bundestag, Charlottenburg Palace and Checkpoint Charlie.
The Humpo Show | Richard