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Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic: An Alternative History of Postwar Germany [Hardcover]

Paul Hockenos
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 21, 2007 0195181832 978-0195181838 1
Over the course of his long and controversial career, Joschka Fischer evolved from an archetypal 1960s radical--a firebrand street activist--into a shrewd political insider, operating at the heights of German politics. In the 1980s he was one of the first elected Greens and went on to become Germany's foreign minister from 1998 to 2005. His famous challenge to Donald Rumsfeld's case for invading Iraq--"Excuse me, I am not convinced"--won him worldwide recognition, and the Bush administration's contempt.

Here is both a lively biography of Joschka Fischer and a gripping history 'from below'of postwar Germany. Paul Hockenos begins in the ruins of postwar Germany and guides us through the flashpoints of the late sixties and seventies, from the student protests and the terrorism of the Baader-Meinhof group to the evolution of Europe's premier Green party, and brings us up to the present in the united Germany. He shows how the grassroots movements that became the German Greens challenged and changed the republic's status quo, making postwar Germany more democratic, liberal and worldly along the way. Despite the ideological twists and turns of Fischer and his peers, the lessons of the Holocaust and the Nazi terror remained their constant coordinates. Hockenos traces that political journey, providing readers with unique insight into the impact that these movements and the Greens have had on Germany.

Informed by hundreds of interviews with key figures and fellow travelers, Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic presents readers with one of the most intriguing personalities on the European scene, and paints a rich picture of the rebellious generation of 1968 that became the political elite of modern Germany.

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Editorial Reviews


"Informed and highly readable.""--The Nation

"This is biographical history at its best."--Philip H. Gordon, Foreign Affairs

"[An] absorbing new book... Hockenos is excellent in tracing the rise of the Green movement from a fringe collection of tree huggers into a groundbreaking force for change in German society."--Washington Monthly

"This absorbing alternative history of postwar Germany chronicles how as a leader of the new Green Party, Fischer presided over the mainstreaming of environmental concerns and the fashioning of a new foreign policy framework for a unified Germany."--Foreign Policy In Focus

"[A]n enlightening yarn about a local boy made good, who several times, by the skin of his teeth, saved his party, his government and his reputation."--The Economist

"...this readable and engaging volume.... Hockenos succeeds here in writing the story not only of Fischer, but also of the diverse protest movements and grassroots campaigns, born of Fischer's generation, that shaped post-1945 Germany. He writes compellingly about these civic initiatives and political movements...."--The Weekly Standard

"For years, Paul Hockenos has been a refreshingly independent and tough-minded observer of the politics of Eastern and Central Europe. Now he gives us a lucid, comprehensive account of the rise of Joschka Fischer and the whole panoply of red-green politics in Germany. Filling in many holes, at least for the English-speaking public, he shows how much German democracy owes to post-60s citizens' movements and the '68-ers' proverbial 'long march through the institutions.'"--Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

"This is an ambitious and original book, deeply researched and lucidly written. It should be on the must-read list for anyone interested in late twentieth-century German history and in the history and legacy of the 1968 generation."--Mary Nolan, Professor of History, New York University

"Modern Germany is very different from the uptight and defensive country--with much to be defensive about--that I first visited in the 1960s. The significant role in that transformation played by the 'sixty-eight generation'--and above all by the extraordinarily talented and ever personally evolving Joschka Fischer--is an intriguing story, which Paul Hockenos tells lucidly and well."--Gareth Evans, President, International Crisis Group and Foreign Minister of Australia 1988-96

"Paul Hockenos knows Germany very well, and he is not afraid to tackle ambiguity and complexity. His scholarly and eminently readable biography of Joschka Fischer provides a serious alternative to more conventional accounts of major changes in Germany."--Norman Birnbaum, author of After Progress: American Social Reform and European Socialism in the Twentieth Century

"A refreshingly clear, elegant portrait of the Europe most influenced by the US and most reflective of its ideals and follies. To understand Fischer and Germany's voyage over the last 60 years is to understand America's own. Those who wish to understand how others see the US today should read this book."--Marcia Pally, author of Critique Abandoned: The Ceding of Democracy

About the Author

Paul Hockenos is an American Berlin-based author and political analyst who has written about Europe since 1989. His articles and commentaries have appeared in dozens of periodicals in Europe and North America. Hockenos is also the author of Free to Hate: The Rise of the Right in Post-Communist Eastern Europe and Homeland Calling: Exile Patriotism and the Balkan Wars. He is presently the editor of Internationale Politik-Global Edition, a foreign affairs quarterly published in Germany.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195181832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195181838
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,618,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing June 19, 2009
This attempt to illuminate the roots and subsequent influence of the '68ers in West Germany through a biography of Fischer is crippled by its reliance on the familiar and creaky mechanics of popular biography on the one hand (e.g., ascribing character traits by examining wedding photos) and the frequent use of trite phrases on the other ("the times they are a-changing" and so on). This distracts and detracts from Hockenos' analysis, which is usually fair and informative, but rarely incisive. I expected something keener and less journalistic from OUP. Disappointing.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent contribution to German scholarship! March 16, 2008
This book is an invaluable resource in the study of postwar German history. Hockenos masterfully chronicles postwar German history and uses Fischer as a vehicle to show how the left opposed American-style consumerism and militarism to create a vibrant new German democracy more in tune with their experiences and values. Eminently readable, this work should be read by both the serious scholar and the casual reader.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read August 27, 2009
By Bluehat
This was a engrossing book--I thought Hockenos did a great job of interweaving Fischer's life with a history of the German left and showing just how much German democracy, which in my mind is much more diverse and effective than the American system, owes to the left. A strong point is the explanations of how members of the left formed certain views and what factors contributed to their radicalization. I had, for example, read a number of articles about the Notstandgesetze (emergency power laws) debated in the 1960s, but I hadn't fully understood what made these laws so threatening to student activists and left-wing thinkers. Hockenos also explores Fischer's alleged opportunism in an even-handed way. This is a book I wholeheartedly recommend.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All good December 2, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I needed this book very quickly and for cheep and I got exactly what I needed.
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