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Summary

Based on a lifetime living in and reporting on Germany and Central Europe, award-winning journalist and author Peter Millar tackles the fascinating and complex story of the people at the heart of our continent.

Focussing on nine cities (only six of which are in the Germany of today), he takes us on a zigzag ride back through time via the fall of the Berlin Wall through the horrors of two world wars and the patchwork states of the Middle Ages to the splendour of Charlemagne and the fall of Rome, with side swipes at everything on the way, from Henry VIII to the Spanish Empire.

Included are mini portraits of aspects of German culture, from sex and money to food and drink. Not just a book about Germany but about Europe as a whole and how we got where we are today - and where we might be tomorrow.

©2017 Peter Millar (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Jo
  • 26-01-18

Superb Highly Recommended

This is a really good book. I knew of Peter Millar from his earlier book, The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall. Here he takes his readers back to scenes from that book and goes on to explain many aspects of Germany's history and culture. His writing is clear, interesting and with a touch of humour. Damian Lynch reads well and with good pronunciation of German words.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The book that I’ve been looking for

An excellent and easily absorbed History of the Germans interspersed with fascinating anecdotes that both inform and entertain. It also forms a partial travelogue for the cities and areas that it features. An excellent starting point for anyone with an interest in European History who wants to form a broad picture of the History of the German speaking area.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Balanced, Light and Informative

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, as an introduction to the long sweep of German history, also its current attitudes and mores, it's very good.

What did you like best about this story?

The conversational style, filled with tangents that could be confusing in less capable hands, but always drew back carefully and concisely to the original point.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The chapter on Vienna gives the kind of potted, concise history of the Habsburg dynasty that many more sprawling efforts get lost in and consumed by.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The utter contrast between actual German attitudes to the country's place in Europe and the jaded, jingoistic perception by many in the UK. A sad gulf that doesn't look like being filled any time shortly.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended and very enjoyable read.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • C I H
  • Bath, United Kingdom
  • 13-07-18

Great overview for anyone that wishes to understand the German.

This for me was revaluation of Germany it’s history and a great introduction to all the private thoughts than one has had but never gotten round to asking. I admit that I had never heard of Peter Miller but wow this guy has at talent for writing which I guess was recognised by Reuters, really enjoyed the delivery by Damian Lynch, one of those books that I wish I had read 30 years ago when I first started to travel for business throughout Germany and Europe, well worth reading, highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not great

Having read and loved Neil MacGregor's "Germany: Story of a Nation" a few years ago, I thought this would complement that nicely. However, it doesn't stack up.

As for the story, I was often unsure where it was going and what its point was. It always felt like the meaning of each chapter was around the corner, but it never quite got there. The chapter on food, which is surprisingly long, is borderline pointless.

The narration is also uninspiring, with the narrator sounding indifferent and bored overall. My previous listen was the effortlessly charismatic John Julius Norwich in his fantastic book "France: a History from Gail to De Gaulle", which maybe set the bar too high, however...

Overall, not great and not worth the money I spent on it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Wunderbar!!

This perfectly very clever, pitched, beautifully written blend of Half History, Half Culture of the German Peoples via it's cities & regions was pure joy to listen to. I can't think a better book to use as a introduction to all of European history too. Will definitely listen to again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Germany

There are very few books on German history. This is one of the few and has an intriguing way of doing so via the story of Germany's cities. However the issue with this is that it can feel a bit "jumpy" as a history rather than a chronological flow. But well worth it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enlightening

Cuts to the quick, with interesting breakdown of subjects that come together to supply a meaningful primer for central European history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Spoiled by unpleasant undercurrent

A bitter and intemperate anti-Brexit diatribe in its concluding chapter rather spoiled my enjoyment of this book, as did a gratuitous and unpleasant undercurrent of anti-British negativity.

The nadir of this is a bizarre claim that a prominent British figure, a decorated WW2 veteran and intellectual, was a Nazi sympathiser because he was also a German scholar!

11 of 17 people found this review helpful

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A captivating history of the Germanic people.

Not my usual kind of read. I really suprised myself at how scant my knowledge of European history. The book kept my interest all the way through. Germans should be proud of their heritage and way of life.

A highly recommended read.

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  • DUCKLover
  • 30-08-18

This could have a much more interesting tale.

The story was narrated well.
My problem was the way this reporter mix personal experience, concurrent history and politics with cold war history. I just could not maintain an interest in continuing the story.
On the other hand if your like hearing a personal view of the happenings on the closing of the cold enjoy.

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  • Shaun
  • 17-05-18

One of the best books I have listened to on here

This is a great book; to quickly sum it up it's a look at Germany through the major cities in (or what was) the German speaking world: Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, Dresden, Munich, Konigsberg (formerly in East Prussia, now Kalingrad in Russia) and Strasbourg (now in France). The author weaves his insanely interesting personal experiences living, working (as a Reuters journalist), and visiting these places to tell their histories. Some great ones included living in East Berlin in the 1980's and being under surveillance by the Stasi, accidently starting a pro-Democracy protest in Dresden (then in the DDR), and having a friendship with the late Otto von Hapsburg. But this isn't just a travel book; the history is seamlessly weaved in. Ignore the crazed review below and take the plunge on this book if you are interested in Germany.

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  • rbergen
  • 27-02-18

Left of reality

Author is a self described hippie who refers to the National Socialists (Nazi's) as "right wing" and communist East Germans as "conservative". Apparently nobody on the left is capable of horrors such as Dresden etc. Of course the Soviets proved differently as they raped and killed all the way through Berlin.
Much excuse making from this Berlin native. Hand wringing over WW2 Allied bombing is tiresome and ridiculous. Germany got the total war it sought to inflict on the world.
I'm sending this book back.

1 of 9 people found this review helpful