What was life like in Hitler’s Germany? This question has long fascinated authors and readers alike, as books like Alone in Berlin, The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas and The Book Thief bear witness.
On 20 September 1949, five days after his election as Chancellor of the newly created German Federal Republic, Konrad Adenauer addressed the Bundestag: ‘Much unhappiness and much damage’, he told the deputies, ‘has been caused by denazification .
The reason Peter Watson gives for writing this long intellectual history of Germany since 1750 is a convincing one: that British obsession with Nazism has blinded many British people to the achievements of German culture.
The perception of war changes, remarked the poet Robert Graves, when ‘your Aunt Fanny, the firewatcher, is as likely to be killed as a soldier in battle’.
D. B. C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little was an unusual Man Booker winner (2003).
John Buchan’s Greenmantle remains a marvellous read, even if its plot is absurd.
The Ninth is not necessarily Beethoven’s greatest symphony.
In mentioning Hein- rich the Fowler, 10th-century King of the Germans and one of the many obscure figures who appears in his book, Simon Winder describes a painting in the Hall of Electors in Frankfurt.