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The Politics of Memory: Looking for Germany in the New Germany Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679448721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679448723
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Germany has been the planet's most perplexing country this century. A prime instigator of World War I, it quickly rebounded from an annihilating defeat in that conflict to rise as a nationalist aggressor with designs on world domination. The latter half of the century has found Germany prospering as an economic power while serving as the dividing line--and then unifying locus--of East and West. Where the country's actual identity lies is the topic of consideration for this collection of essays. In this illuminating compilation, Jane Kramer, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, addresses the role of Germany's lurking past in its attempts to embrace the future.

From Publishers Weekly

Kramer (The Last Cowboy), a writer for the New Yorker since 1964, is a highly skilled journalist who has a deep passion for her subject and obviously knows her stuff. In these articles collected from the New Yorker and devoted to such topics as Berlin, the Stasi (East Germany's secret police), skinheads and other subjects, she ruminates on the attempts of the Germans from both sides of the Wall to come to terms with their collective past. One problem with this kind of collection is that some of it dates rather rapidly. For example, she goes on about Berlin's "so big, and so conspicuously bombed out" Potsdamer Platz, which is now being rapidly developed by major corporations. Still, her observations can be trenchant: "[W]ith three hundred thousand informers, the Stasi was not so much a mirror of East Germany; to a large extent, it was East Germany." If Kramer could rein in the verbiage, her essays would be compelling.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on December 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Kramer is a wonderful storyteller and an excellent reporter. The problem with this book is that Kramer's status as an outsider reporting on a country she doesn't even live in leads to overcompensation in the form of a transparent will to write an "insider's" tone into her essays. If I had a nickel for every time she referred to "the kids" and "the scene" as if she really knew anything but hearsay about German kids and scenes, or for the occurrences of "a lot of people say [x]" and "so-and-so likes to say [x]," I'd have enough money to buy Anna Funder's book about the Stasi, which, while also problematic, has the intelligence to include her outsider stance in the narrative itself. Meanwhile, Kramer's lack of familiarity with Berlin comes out in embarrassing goofs such as placing the KaDeWe on the Ku'damm and referring to Germany's most important literary publishing house, Suhrkamp, as Surkampf. Too bad, for there is much important social and political history gathered in these essays. The book is definitely worth reading, but its weaknesses do annoy.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Kramer is one of the leading exponents of literary journalism, so it's perplexing that this book is out of print--especially since it contains several classic essays that she wrote for the New Yorker magazine. Some of the essays are over a decade old but they hold true and remain great reads. Most memorable are the ones on Berlin and the Wall--absolute gems of style and voicing that alone are worth the book's price. Highly recommended for anyone visiting Germany or living there.
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