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Why the Germans Do it Better

de John Kampfner

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A provocative and entertaining exploration of the country that Britons love to hate by one of our most respected journalists.
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A really good book that looks at post war Germany, with most emphasis on contemporary history. I thought it was well balanced and looked at various issues facing Germany and how they tackle them. ( )
  thewestwing | Aug 12, 2022 |
Excellent synopsis of essentially Germany since the Second World War. It’s correctly highlights the emotional maturity of a newlyformed nation and the struggles both economic, political, and societal that has had to deal with. The author is obviously a big German fan, but when one looks at his arguments you can understand why. If I had one complaint it would be that the narrator was slightly too fast and had a bucolic manner. ( )
  aadyer | Sep 14, 2021 |
First of all, they don’t. It’s a provocative title for a book, but ultimately a silly one — and it’s not what the book is really about. John Kampfner offers a wide-ranging view of Germany today (and by today, I really mean today: the book was updated earlier this year). When he makes the case that Germany does some things better, he means that in comparison to the UK. Kampfner is a critic of Brexit and Boris Johnson (and rightly so) and yes, Germany’s continued support for the European project is better than Britain’s withdrawal from it, and Angela Merkel is a far more serious political leader than Johnson. But on the rare occasion that he compares Germany to other European countries (e.g. the Nordic countries), it’s not always clear that Germany is doing anything better. And while Kampfner doesn’t ignore the rise of xenophobia, racism and even anti-Semitism in Germany today, I don’t think he places enough emphasis on it. Still, it’s a very well-written and informative book, but it would have served better by a different title. ( )
  ericlee | Jul 24, 2021 |
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If Britain were a building, it would be a crumbling stately home; still grand but decrepit now in parts, its gardens overgrown and its floorboards warped. Or at least that's what most Germans think, according to John Kampfner's Why the Germans Do It Better (Atlantic), the book that perhaps best captures the state we're in despite not actually being about us. It’s been a lousy year for British exceptionalism, or the overconfident belief in this country being inherently better than any other, whether at handling pandemics or bending Brexit negotiations to its will.

Kampfner, a former foreign correspondent whose Jewish father fled his home in Bratislava as Hitler's army advanced, isn't blind to German failings. His title, he confesses, horrifies German friends who beg him to include more of what their country is getting wrong. But he writes with great affection about a nation that he calls "a bulwark of decency and stability", rising again and again to the given challenge; reuniting peacefully with the East, opening its doors to refugees, tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Even Germans' dogged attachment to what may seem rather stifling social norms – when Kampfner was living there a neighbour once left a note on his car, urging him politely to clean it because it was "bringing down the reputation of the street" – served them well, he argues, in lockdown. But ultimately he sees Germany's greatest strength as its willingness to interrogate and doubt itself, a habit instilled during the postwar years of moral reckoning. One for armchair travellers – it made me itch to visit Berlin – but also those approaching Brexit’s final frontier with a nagging sense of loss.
afegit per Cynfelyn | editaThe Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff (Nov 28, 2020)
 
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A provocative and entertaining exploration of the country that Britons love to hate by one of our most respected journalists.

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