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Great Primer but NOT an Authoritative Guide to German Life,
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This review is from: When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do: The Clued-In Guide to German Life, Language, and Culture (Paperback)I wish I could give this book a five start like the other reviewers, but I cannot due to my recent experience using this book in Germany.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a quick and entertaining introduction to German Life, Language, and Culture. But to someone who has already been to Germany, has an understanding of Deutsche Kultur, and/or is studying German I would recommend keeping an open mind to how limiting this book can be. Let me elaborate:
While the book does a superb job of starting with a quiz (and most Germans love quizes) and provides the quiz answers in the back, has supporting articles and web-sites throughout the book, and even has a map of the 16 Budesländer (federated States) it comes short of being Comprehensive or Authoritative.
What I had found when I used this book (quiz) with my friends and relatives in Germany is that:
In real life, Germans as a people are not as homogeneous as they come across when answering the quiz questions and reading the articles in this book. Many Germans identify first with the region (Bundesland) where they live in. Each region has their own traditions, festivals, and many time different public religious holidays (like the Catholic states in the southern part vs. the Protestant States central/northern Germany). As such, someone from Thüringen will answer some questions differently than someone from Berlin or someone from Hamburg. Nevertheless the sections on 'People,' 'Places' 'What's That?' are invaluable to anyone.
A companion book that I would recommend is Richard Lord's "Culture Shock - Germany, A Guide to Customes and Etiquette."