A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People

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9780066209258: A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People

From one of our most distinguished historians comes a sweeping, original, and provocative history of Germany, from antiquity to the present, shedding a fresh, empathetic light on the nation and its people. A Mighty Fortress is a work of penetrating, virtuoso scholarship that holds a mirror to an entire civilization - - one that has been alternately Western Europe's most successful and most perilous. It boldly examines Germany's tumultuous twentieth century in light of its earliest achievements as a prosperous, civil, and moral society, tracing a line of continuity that began in ancient times and has endured through the ages, despite its enemies and itself. The book tells the story of the well-known men -- Luther, Kant, and Beethoven, Marx, Bismarck, and Hitler -- to the masses of ordinary Germans. The Germans are a people who desire national unity, yet have always kept themselves from it by aligning with autocratic territorial governments and regional cultures.

Indeed, Germans living centuries apart have shared in different ways a common defining experience that is unique to their culture: a convergence of external provocation, wounded pride, and an unusual ability to exercise great power in response to both. Ozment captures the soul of a nation that is at once ordered and chaotic, disciplined and obsessive, proud and uncertain. Epic in scope, refreshing in its insights, and written with nuance, acumen, and verve, it presents the history of the German people as the story of humanity writ large.

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