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The German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century Hardcover – June 22, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The book considers German ideas as being those of German people, which exceeds the bounds of citizenship in any German nation but instead also includes people of German cultural background from Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and other territories where German-speaking peoples lived en masse. A reader may no doubt quibble with some of the persons who are included as being "German" by the author, but a disagreement over any one person is indeed a quibble, not an indictment of the underlying premise.
The book would seem to have at least three purposes:
1) By documenting the immense fertility of German culture in generating powerful advances in the arts, science and the humanities the author attempts to restore (for those for whom it is needed) a wider, more balanced perspective on Germany than apparently currently exists. Without any attempt to minimize, dismiss, or overlook the evil of the Nazi's and the Holocaust (for which "Germany" has been stigmatized), the narrative offers a reminder of great achievements that were not accidental, but a product of German culture and society.
2) By explaining the elements of German culture that gave rise to those fertile developments, an explanation is also proposed for reasons that some of those same elements could ironically allow or make possible the barbaric (and distinctly uncultured) Third Reich.Read more ›
It is as if Anglos are perpetually in the grip of wartime propaganda some 70 years after the war. Actually, the propaganda really goes back to WWI in which the UK launched the first modern state propaganda campaign against another people, using race imagery btw.
Watson's book is an attempt at a corrective to this distorted and one sided view of history, and it should be applauded in so far as it succeeds. Unfortunately, based on the previous review, I wonder if he has. Although I'm of Anglo ancestry, I have lived in Germany and speak German with intermediate ability. It is a wonderful country and people, and being a classical musician, I can say that their achievement in that sphere is unparalleled in the history of mankind. The most we Anglos can muster seems to the Beatles and other such low rent music (Elgar, who spent summers in Bavaria, excepted). What does that compare with Mozart or Bach?
What galls me in such thinking is the presumptuous, arrogant and glib superiority complex that Anglos have about themselves. We view ourselves as the world's angels, forgetting the international slave trade (which Germans had nothing to do with), the creation of concentration camps (for Boers in S.A. during the Boer War), the wholesale extermination of various native tribes in North America, and host of other crimes against humanity.Read more ›
but also a comprehensive reporting of most aspects of society and the matrix in which modern German contributions and thinking across the spectrum of activities.
Definitely the best I've read on this subject
But if you wanted the author to write more about Goethe, Schopenhauer, Diesel, Hegel, Schlegel, Schiller, Schubert, Mahler, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Friedrich, Herder, Wolf, Fichte, Humboldt (and so on and so on), well, you ask for too much. So, I'd say start here and enjoy the journey.
To paraphrase Philip Larkin, this is a serious book on serious ground; not to be consumed in one or two sittings; its complexities and intricacies are many, inviting the reader to carefully ponder the roots of Western philosophical thought, the wellsprings of nineteenth century symphonic music (mostly Germanic), the scope of Western artistic achievement, the nature of politics and political dialogue in our modern society and the engines of science in the past two hundred years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good overview, well written, a good flow. Probably an eye-opener for the english readership, less so for the american. Should be translated into swedish.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is an excellent narrative history of contributors, ideas, movements, and events in German culture. Peter Watson communicates his encyclopaedic knowledge very readably. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Geoff Crocker
The principal idea behind this book is that we should not let the Holocaust completely dominate our perception of German culture. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Robert J. Crawford
This book has a lot of philosophy in it. If that's what you like then I recommend it. Otherwise, no. The only philosopher I can bear reading is Schopenhauer. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Peter J. Keiser
Illuminating the inside character of a nation that is supposed to not exist. I was always worried about the way in which the young German nation, stitched together by Bismarck, had... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Thilo Ullmann-Zahn