Five Germanys I Have Known by Fritz Stern

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The “German question” haunts the modern world: How could so civilized a nation be responsible for the greatest horror in Western history? In this unusual fusion of personal memoir and history, the celebrated scholar Fritz Stern refracts the question through the prism of his own life. Born in the Weimar Republic, exposed to five years of National Socialism before being forced into exile in 1938 in America, he became a world-renowned historian whose work opened new perspectives on the German past. Stern brings to life the five Germanys he has experienced: Weimar, the Third Reich, postwar West and East Germanys, and the unified country after 1990. Through his engagement with the nation from which he and his family fled, he shows that the tumultuous history of Germany, alternately the strength and the scourge of Europe, offers political lessons for citizens everywhere—especially those facing or escaping from tyranny. In this wise, tough-minded, and subtle book, Stern, himself a passionately engaged citizen, looks beyond Germany to issues of political responsibility that concern everyone. Five Germanys I Have Known vindicates his belief that, at its best, history is our most dramatic introduction to a moral civic life.

About Fritz Stern

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Fritz Stern, University Professor Emeritus and former provost at Columbia University, is the author of many works of European history, including "Gold and Iron: ""Bismarck,"" Bleichroder and the Building of the German Empire "and "Einstein's German World,
Published July 24, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 561 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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The author engagingly mixes personal experiences, including friendships with poet Allen Ginsberg and historian Richard Hofstadter, with the politics of the times, ranging from Konrad Adenauer's leadership of West Germany to the ideological turmoil that raged on Columbia's campus in 1968.

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The New York Times

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As he explained in a later edition of the work, “I attempted to show the importance of this new type of cultural malcontent, and to show how he facilitated the intrusion into politics of essentially unpolitical grievances.” Rather than looking for obvious parallels among contemporary dictators w...

Oct 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Five Germanys I Have Known

The New York Times

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Readers’ Opinions Forum: Book News and Reviews Stern was of course not suggesting an equivalence between President Bush and Hitler but rather making a more subtle critique, extending his idea that contemporary American politics exhibited �something like the strident militancy and politica...

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The New York Review of Books

Many Jews succeeded beyond all expectations, mainly in medicine, law, journalism, and the natural sciences, a field “in which Germans and Jews complement one another… in what may have been a singular crucible of genius,” Stern writes.

Oct 19 2006 | Read Full Review of Five Germanys I Have Known

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