Janice Durante's Reviews > Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History

Germania by Simon Winder
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Feb 29, 12

bookshelves: nonfiction, travel

I've often thought it unfortunate that so many people refuse to consider visiting Germany. Simon Winder's lively, quirky valentine to the country could change a few people's minds -- if only they'd give him a chance. I know what you're thinking: The food's bad, the climate's so-so, the language impossible, the history dark. Yes, there's some truth in all of that, but ... there's so much more. For those of us who love to wander medieval lanes, enter ancient castles, and experience another culture without the curse of hordes of tourists,Germany offers intriguing experiences. Winder, who works in publishing and has written The Man Who Saved Britain, has crafted ramblings through German culture and history that are not only enlightening but funny. No, REALLY. You might not want to read his book word for word, but dip in and out of it, and you'll find yourself refreshed and perhaps a bit more appreciative and open-minded about this complex,fascinating land. Here's one of Winder's musings:
"I wandered around Freising after a heavy blizzard one January and found myself in the hills above the town en route to the oldest brewery in the world (founded in 1040) -- a patently feeble-minded task as the age of the brewery has no impact of any kind on the taste of the beer. ... Walking through the silent hills, with spires just visible, skeletal trees dotting the snowy landscape and the occasional wisp of smoke, I found myself irritably wondering why genial but essentially pointless little birds like bullfinches could bomb around in the fir trees surviving the winter whereas I would be dead of exposure within twenty-four hours. Suddenly, I realized where I was: I seemed to be walking through Breughel's Hunters in the Snow, but with the dark, purposive figures of the hunters replaced by an out-of-condition publisher. Then I arrived at the brewery's lorry delivery ramps, and my little late-medieval moment evaporated."
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