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  • Why the Germans Do It Better

  • Notes from a Grown-Up Country
  • By: John Kampfner
  • Narrated by: Adam Bromley
  • Length: 10 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (128 ratings)

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Summary

Emerging from a collection of disparate city states 150 years ago, no other country has had as turbulent a history as Germany or enjoyed so much prosperity in such a short time frame. Today, as much of the world succumbs to authoritarianism and democracy is undermined from its heart, Germany stands as a bulwark for decency and stability.

Mixing personal journey and anecdote with compelling empirical evidence, this is a searching and entertaining exploration of the country many in the West still love to hate. Raising important questions for our post-Brexit landscape, Kampfner asks why Germany has become a model for others to emulate, while Britain still languishes in wartime nostalgia and fails to tackle contemporary challenges. Part memoir, part history, part travelogue, Why the Germans Do It Better is a rich and witty portrait of an eternally fascinating country.

©2020 John Kampfner (P)2020 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

“Smart, provocative and entertaining, this is a timely and enthralling love letter to our much misunderstood near neighbour." (Kay Burley)

What listeners say about Why the Germans Do It Better

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I’d sooner continue reading it myself!

No issues with the content and style. The narrator, however, clearly does not know German. His atrocious pronunciation and perceived pauses before reading any German text, as if getting ready to jump, is so irritating that, after 90 minutes of listening, I resigned myself to continuing reading it myself.

With so much research invested in this book, why not select a competent linguist or professional reader to do the job .... or ask John le Carré, who would do it with alacrity!


7 people found this helpful

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Doesnt do what it says on the tin

I found the title misleading. Its deliberately provocative but doesnt deliver.
Its an interesting sweep of post ww2 German history but there’s no coherent narrative.
You also have to endure a good dollop of brit bashing.
His contention that the pandemic proves german superiority has rapidly dated with the vaccine rollout.
As for the narration this is incredibly annoying with a string of very bad “impressions” and awful accents. Much better when he doesnt bother.
Overall not terrible but disappointing considering the rave reviews

6 people found this helpful

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Very good illustration of post war Germany to the present

As a German who lived for nearly half of my life in the UK now it is a very good and accurate history of post war Germany and its history from this point. It offers a good insight into the german psyche and values.
The title of the book is a bit misleading as it is not as polarised in opinion as the title might suggest.
A must read for anyone who is interested in post war Germany, its history and more importantly how post war Germans REALLY think and feel. And this reality is of course very different to many of the rather ignorant post war cliches still widely stereotyped in the British media.

6 people found this helpful

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Gut!

Superb book, although I have unashamedly loved Germany my whole life. It's a very engaging and comprehensive book and I couldn't agree more with the central tenet. We could all learn a lot from the Germans.

4 people found this helpful

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Outstanding perspectives

Extremely well structured book which makes its points clearly and concisely. Throughly illuminating and engaging.

1 person found this helpful

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Personal and believable review of Germany today

Interesting and very credible insights into German politics culture and character. Well presented, but annoying attempts at awful (particularly German) accents. I was particularly interested in the analysis of current political situations and his views on democracy and populism. Also a good analysis of Germany in its international relationships, particularly within Europe, the UK, the USA (especially Trump) and Putin's Russia.

An excellent contemporary and sympathetic view of Merkel's Germany.

1 person found this helpful

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Lasson for Boris & Adgerents

Mildly patronising to the English, ut nonetheless carries a vital social and economic message fir Brexiteers in particular.

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What a bitter, arrogant & narrow minded outlook.

I bought this book thinking it would be a dispassionate but hopefully slightly sarcastic comparison between two unarguably great nations…Germany & the United Kingdom. I’m softly patriotic about my Britishness, fully open to the reality that Germany is a brilliant country & quite able to give & take criticism of my homeland & welcome some good, old fashioned, light hearted, cultural ribbing in both directions. With that in mind, I was looking forward to starting this.

But the first chapter proves the old adage, never judge a book by its cover. You really do have to get stuck into this one to realise how nasty & mean spirited the author actually is.

Far from being an excuse to brag about Germany’s many, many positive attributes, almost immediately it becomes a partisan swipe at Boris Johnson & then Britain & it’s constitution as a whole. The author seems to believe that he’s not only able to judge how best to handle the Covid pandemic, but already knows what medical science so far does not & has judged Britain’s handling of the Covid pandemic accordingly.

He goes on to assert that Germany follows the rule of law while France relies on militaristic symbolism. America rests on the story of its founding fathers & Britain languishes on its Dad’s Army teaching of history along with a constitution that is “made up as it’s goes along”.

The author describes his childhood in 60s Britain as being a time where children sang “Hitler only had one ball” as if this was some sort of narrow minded, xenophobic slight against him personally, rather than a nation coming to terms with the horror unleashed upon it by his precious homeland.

All this within the first 10 minutes. What a nasty, mean spirited, facetious & factually start. And underneath all of this is Brexit. I can feel it. I can feel it in his words, & in the voice of the narrator who I presume is as self hating as the author.

Give me descriptions of functional public transport followed by some well placed piss take of our own crumbling network. Describe how the modern German constitution works & how it’s Supreme Court manages the balance between that & the EU, & have a laugh at how the U.K. seems to want to do it the hard way instead.

But don’t subject me to your political proselytising. I’m not interested in your politics or your clear & obvious bitterness & resentment at British people & their insistence on democracy.

Not item I get a refund on a book. I’ve got several that I’ve started, not liked but are still sitting in my library unread. But this one is going back, & what a shame. What a missed opportunity to sing the praises or a truly great nation, squandered by his petty minded, political vitriol.

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Vorsprung dorch technik

As an ex army child while my dad was in forces, it was very clear that germans did things better, keep their country tidy, roads weren't constantly being repaired, oh the list goes on, this is a book you can put down and pick up again as their is alot to absorb and just realise that the mentality of as it says ' the brits just wing it' just isn't working.

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  • JT
  • 23-06-21

well researched an balanced

A well considered review of Germany and it's recent history. A very informative read. highly recommended