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The Shortest History of Germany

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,816 ratings  ·  336 reviews
The West is in full retreat. The Anglo-Saxon powers, great and small, withdraw into fantasies of lost greatness. Populists all over Europe cry out that immigration and globalisation are the work of a nefarious System, run by unseen masters with no national loyalties. From the Kremlin, Tsar Vladimir watches his Great Game line up, while the Baltic and Vizegrad states shiver ...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published April 28th 2017 by Old Street Publishing (first published April 2017)
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The Bohemian Conservative No, it may be well written and 'entertaining' (for some people) but it is very poor historically, and will leave people who are not well-versed in the…moreNo, it may be well written and 'entertaining' (for some people) but it is very poor historically, and will leave people who are not well-versed in the topic with an extremely flawed view of German history, particularly to do with anything after the 18th century.(less)

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  2,816 ratings  ·  336 reviews


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Cj Dufficy
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
A revisionist history at odds with everything else I've read. This is not a history, it is a thesis that boils down to an evil race of East Germans that are hell bent on destroying the world for the last 150 years. It's mainly supported with dog whistle factoids, deliberate misinterpretations and outright falsehoods. Either the author has been paid to deliberately write this argument or he is congenitally dishonest.

It's well written and easily consumed, the first 1500 years are gobbled up and
...more
Evelyn Wood
Jun 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
If anyone is kind enough to read this review I think it only fair to state the following: I am not religious. I speak German. I have lived and worked in Germany and managed German companies in the UK, Africa and Central Asia. I do not claim to be an expert, but do have sufficient knowledge both of history and current affairs to justify this review.
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This is not a history, rather a propaganda exercise and, for anyone who knows anything of German and European
...more
Ami
May 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Something that should be said from the start: Hawes is not a historian, his work was not endorsed by historians, and it falls behind even the normally low standards of history books written for the general public. It's barely referenced, lacks a bibliography, and omits facts if they don't fit into the author's general argument.

I had one encounter with Hawes before, and it left me intrigued. In September 2017, he wrote an article in the New Statesman in which he explained the then-upcoming
...more
Judith Johnson
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I see that there are many very angry one star reviews for this book on Goodreads, from those who are outraged that there is neither bibliography, footnotes nor academic references for it, but surely, written by an author who is also a university lecturer, its clear that Hawes is not aiming for it to be taken as an academic work? HG Wells didnt have references in his Short History of the World, nor did EH Gombrich in his A Little History if the World, albeit written for young readers.

I see
...more
SatanIsLove
It started off as a very informative read and somehow along the way turned into an anti-Prussian propaganda. Hawes' argument basically comes down to this: everyone and everything east of Elbe is rubbish and to blame for all the disasters of 19th-21st century. Don't waste your time on this.
Robert Maisey
Jul 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wrote the review copied below in a fit of pique a few minutes after finishing the book, so its a little heated. On reflection, there's some good stuff here about the German relationship with "roman" Europe - particularly the mixed identity of the areas west of the Rhine - and it complimented some aspects of Prisoners of Geography, which I had read just beforehand.

However, here's the reason I gave it one star:

Understanding how two centuries of revolution and violence have somehow culminated in
...more
Rob
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Problematic to say the least. For half of this book, I was marvelling at the author's skill in boiling down the history of a complex subject in such a limited amount of pages. By clever use of diagrams and illustrations, I learned a lot about the broad sweep of Germany's history and was relishing the narrative. Then, around the time of German unification, the grinding of the author's axe suddenly became ear splitting. The author equates Germany's western and southern reaches to a utopia of good ...more
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨
Germany has always been a divided country

I bought this book in the airport on my way home from Berlin because I was interested in German history and this seemed like a good place to start. And I was not wrong about that. It is a great place to start because it is so short and condensed. There were definitely times when I found myself think 'what about this' or 'what about that' and these things were never adressed or answered. But it dind't ruin the book for or my understanding of the subject.
...more
Ioannis Papagiannis
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally understood what Prussia was. After all these years of seeing it appearing and disappearing in European history maps. It is safe to say this author is no big fan of it.
Kirsty
Dec 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: december-2018
Whilst in Munich with my boyfriend in February of this year, I mentioned that I'd love to learn more about German history. I have a sound grasp of it from the Weimar Republic up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, and have studied the period between 1914 and 1945 intensively, but I knew very little about earlier eras. James Hawes' The Shortest History of Germany therefore sounded as though it would be perfect to fill in those gaps.

It rings alarm bells for me when history books do not include a
...more
Rosie
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I had very mixed thoughts on this book. On the one hand, he's drawn the history together very well in that he shows its continuity. This makes a much more readable and compelling history than - as so often happens - it being treated as separate events that are isolated from one another.

However, Hawes clearly has his own biases that crop up throughout the book. In an early map of Europe ('In the Proto-Beginning', xi) he labels northern Germany 'Proto Germans' and the Mediterranean, specifically
...more
Alice
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an impulse buy, and Im a bit of a sucker for short histories (let alone the shortest history - how could I resist?). The Observer calls it sweeping and confident and the New European calls it authoritative. Id have to disagree with the New European assessment, although add overconfident to the Observers characterisation and its pretty much spot-on. What Hawes has to say about Hegel and Marx is pure nonsense, and it seems a little too neat that we can simply blame Protestantism for the ...more
Miguel Pinto
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
if your interest in history or simply curious about German history, this is the book to go.
Clearly written, not boring it focus on fact without putting you to sleep.
for me understanding why world war I started and also discovering a permanent mark on brittish society with German origin made this book fun to read,
totally recommend
Stanislav Stanchev
I am impressed with how much James Hawes has accomplished in just 226 pages of image-rich and small-format pages. To me, the book has three layers on which it can be appreciated:

First, the reader is served an engaging and accessible tale of 2,000 years of German history. I particularly enjoyed the many maps and the interspersed etymological facts (such as the English pound Sterling being derived from Easterling, referring to the reliable money of the Hansa merchants on the German Baltic Coast).

...more
Peter Castine
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Was going to give this only one star but then I reminded myself that Hawes is primarily an author of fiction. As a work of historical fiction, the book gets a nudge upwards. Even then, the strategies used to make the desired point are anything but subtle.

If we are to take the book at the face value of its title, I understand that to keep 2,000 years of history short it's going to be necessary to simplify, smooth over details, and leave things out. But still, the book deliberately skips over
...more
Lori
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I saw this book, I saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the history of Germany. Disappointment set in almost from the moment I opened the book. Non-existent documentation, an overly familiar writing style, and blatant political bias plagued the account. In a small book such as this, one expects superficial treatment; however, the author's biases seem to drive what he glosses over and what he treats more in-depth. The author needs to return to writing fiction and refrain from ...more
Radiantflux
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: europe, history, germany
95th book for 2018.

Interesting polemical essay, arguing that the recent rise of neo-nazism in East Germany is nothing new, and that there are really two Germanys, one east and one west of the Elbe, that have existed since Roman times. I am not sure I buy all the arguments, but an enjoyable and provocative read.

3-stars.
GONZA
Oct 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an history book, it is propaganda. It is based on some crazy idea of the author and I am wondering how could a publisher decided that it was worthy. I gave up after a while because there seemed to be no point in keep on reading rubbish,

Thanks Netgalley for the preview
The Humpo Show [ Richard ]
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
...more
AnnaG
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a swoop over 2,000 years of history that can be read in a couple of hours. It gives an interesting insight into the history of Germany. Some parts are brushed over rather lightly making it hard to understand exactly what is going on, but with the brevity, you don't get bogged down in the detail. The theory advanced that modern Germany is really a fusion of two separate cultures that have kept experiencing different developmental pressures is interesting and not one I'd heard before. ...more
Paul Stevenson
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Sh**test History of Germany paints with a very broad brush, and presents a particular view that is more of a personal thesis than a history. To some extent, that is really true of all histories, especially pop histories. Especially short ones. It started off promisingly enough, sketching out a picture of the Roman interactions with the peoples of Germania, and proceeding from there, keeping in mind the boundaries at the Roman time as a template through which to remember what passed before. ...more
Laura
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great book about a very interesting topic. This is one of the books that show that history, unlike many of us experienced in school, doesn't have to be dry and boring. It's an entertaining read that taught me about the bigger power struggles in Europe over centuries, but also about my own family history.
Does it go in to a lot of detail? No. Is it unbiased? No. Is that an issue? No. This is not a history book in the classical sense of the word. It is not a regurgitation of facts that we have
...more
Belinda Carvalho
Oct 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
Welllllllllllllllllllllll...where to start with this book. I got off to quite a bad start with this. I bought it as a Kindle edition, I genuinely thought it was going to be a short bite-sized book that I could use to brush up on my Germany history. Unfortunatley this wasn't to be , as this book is compeletely revisionist and falls into an opinion-based view on real events that have been put through James Hawes mind an emerge bearing little resemblance to reality and actual history.
Have you ever
...more
Kevin Gibbons
Jul 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is dishonest history. The main argument is based on a distinction between cultural "West Germans" who are descended from those tribes which were under the power of the Roman Empire, and "East Germans" who were never 'civilized'.

This distinction is a fantasy, based on some idealized (and, indeed, sterilized) idea of what the Roman Empire was. Rather than the source of all democratic and liberal thought, the Roman Empire is more accurately characterized by its "state-worship" and
...more
Ken
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dont tend to read much non-fiction, but as this was one of Waterstones books of the month and Germany is one of my favourite countries that Ive visited - this book was an instant purchase.

Its a fascinating bite size read, the author covers 2000 years in just over 200 pages.

Its certainly wetted my appetite to read more on the subject.
...more
William Ditcham
Dec 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Do not read this book. I picked it up as I was hoping to gain a basic understanding of German history and culture however I now greatly regret it. Mr Hawes seems to make grand assumptions about Germany, and more specifically East Germany, without providing any evidence for it. The lack of a bibliography and rigorous referencing is especially concerning considering the fact that the book essentially turns into a 200 page spiel on the evilness of East Germany.
Additionally, Mr Hawes opens the book
...more
Nick
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To the casual observer, todays Germany is impressive for its economic and political clout. It's a country that gives a strong impression of unity and shared purpose, with its richer western population having poured trillions into the coffers of their eastern neighbours over the past 30 years to pursue an ideal of reunification. Sitting at the heart of the European Union, Germany has shown moral leadership over the refugee crisis, and although its approach to enforcing austerity on weaker ...more
Fabiola
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
In my view, the book is a mix of a personal and biased thesis of the author and the bits of history that are most convenient to support it. Its good to get an overview of German history, but take it all with a grain of salt. Should by no means be considered an objective and professional work. When I bought the book after reading the title and the reviews of reputable institutions, I thought it would be a proper history, and not a divisive and incomplete interpretation. ...more
Supriyo Chaudhuri
This short book surprised me. I came to it at a time when I finished a big project and was undecided if I wanted to commit to any serious study. I was looking for informational history books of kings-and-things variety. But this turned out to be that and more: A little book with a big thesis (or two). It helped put Germany in perspective, right up to the present moment in its politics. One can argue with its central assumption - that geography is destiny - but I greatly enjoyed it's brilliant ...more
Hristian Trendafilov
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this quite interesting. I really liked how history was traced from the beginning (ie Bronze Age, pre Roman encounters) all the way to the Present. It is interesting because then you can see certain themes emerge. I've noticed this when I've traced other region's history in total and I found surprising coincidences.

So the author argues there's an overlapping theme of West Germany vs East Germany. The rich against the powerful. So there is an opinion stated throughout the book. So I
...more
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