The best books on Germany 📚

Browse the best books on Germany as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Seventh Cross

The Seventh Cross

By Anna Seghers

Why this book?

There are very few German novels about Nazi persecution written at the time it was taking place, but the Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers is among the very best. (Another is The Oppermanns by Lion Feuchtwanger, which shows the experience of a single, affluent German-Jewish family.) Seghers narrates the story of George Heisler, a communist who escapes from a concentration camp along with six other men. Can he reach freedom across the border before the manhunt catches up with him? Will anyone hide him or help him in a society wracked by fear, where friends no longer meet and…

From the list:

The best books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

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Book cover of Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

By Lyndal Roper

Why this book?

A truly innovative and fascinating psychological perspective on the imaginative workings behind early modern witchcraft cases. It’s common knowledge that women were much more likely than men to be accused, but Roper shows us that it’s not always for the reasons we suspect. Written in sparkling prose by one of the world’s preeminent experts on the subject and illustrated by numerous arresting images.

From the list:

The best history books on the European witch craze

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Book cover of In the Ruins of the Reich

In the Ruins of the Reich

By Douglas Botting

Why this book?

There are dozens of excellent books about Germany and Germans in the wake of defeat – I could mention Giles MacDonogh’s After the Reich, or R.M. Douglas’s Orderly and Humane – but Douglas Botting’s book is by far the most engaging history of the subject that I’ve ever read. It was written in the 1980s, so it is not quite as up-to-date as the more recent histories, but what it lacks in cutting-edge research it more than makes up for in narrative immediacy. It is impossible not to be moved by Botting’s descriptions of postwar chaos, of orphans hiding in…

From the list:

The best books on the immediate aftermath of World War 2

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Book cover of Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

By Svenja O'Donnell

Why this book?

We hear a lot about the wars of soldiers and spies, but much less about the lives of ordinary people. In this book, O’Donnell pieces together the story of her grandmother’s life as a young woman in Germany before and during the war. Unlike the tales of daring action, this is a story that is unexceptional, but all the more powerful for it. A reminder that for many people in Europe, the war was something that happened to them, rather than something they did.

From the list:

The best books on secret wartime histories around WW2

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Book cover of Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children

By Sara Zaske

Why this book?

Preschoolers who wield knives and start fires? Kids riding by themselves on the subway? Welcome to Germany, where “free range parenting” is the norm and free play takes priority over academic learning in the early years. Zaske’s journey as an American mom in Berlin is a fascinating and thought-provoking read that turns many of our preconceived notions about German culture and parenting on their head. Parents looking to raise confident, self-reliant children will likely take Zaske’s book to heart. 

From the list:

The best books on parenting secrets from other cultures

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Book cover of Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies

Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies

By Alexander Watson

Why this book?

Amid the industrial war of fire and fury, a key question remains on how the soldiers survived. Watson’s book explores the experience for British and German soldiers, drawing upon their letters and diaries. Enduring the Great War offers new ways to understand the war of the trenches, how morale was sustained, and it provides an inner portrait into the men who took in the grinding warfare.

From the list:

The best books on the Great War and why it haunts us

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