The Magazine

The German Question

Where did they come from, where are they going?

Dec 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 15 • By THOMAS A. KOHUT
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Here, as throughout, German History in Modern Times is balanced and, above all, sensible. Hagen incorporates the most recent historical scholarship and brings the reader up to the present day, including the financial crisis, the unexpected rise of the Pirate party, and the euro crisis. This is a superb, comprehensive, and comprehensible history of Germany, which was never, in Hagen’s words, “a monolithic unity.” Efforts to create such a unity by historical actors, most notably by the National Socialists, brought suffering, death, and destruction. The efforts of historians to see German history as evolving towards such a unity obscures the various actual and possible Germanys, the diversity and heterogeneity of central European life that, in the end, make the history of Germany, as presented here, so fascinating.  

Thomas A. Kohut, the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III professor of history at Williams, is the author, most recently, of
A German Generation: An Experiential History of the Twentieth Century