On Germany

July 2018 9781849049450 308pp
August 2019 9781787382213 308pp
EU Customers


After the Second World War, Germany was an international pariah. Today, it has become a beacon of the Western world. But what makes this extraordinary nation tick?

On Germany tells the story of a country reborn, from defeat in 1945 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the painstaking reunification of ‘the two Germanies’, and the Republic’s return to the world stage as an economic colossus and European leader. Giles MacDonogh restores these momentous events of world history to their German context, from the food and drink that accompanied them to the deep-rooted provincialism behind the national story.

Full of vivid and often whimsical vignettes of German life, this is a Germanophile’s homage to the culture and people of a country he has known for decades.



‘Funny, erudite and, despite all the competition, original . . . MacDonogh’s vivid tapestry does justice to the most despised and most envied people in Europe . . . as enjoyable as sitting in the lovely old square of a small town in Germany, quaffing a cold glass of hock to the sound of a distant Bach cantata.’ The Times

‘Culture and the texture of everyday experience, rather than the grand sweep of politics, are what MacDonogh relishes, and his account shines with his enthusiasm for his subject. This is the book of a well-informed flâneur sniffing the air . . . the attitudes and quirks that make Germany so distinctive are nicely brought to life.’ The Sunday Times

‘Even those who know Germany well will profit from reading this book . . . by eschewing the more predictable ways of telling the German story [MacDonogh] succeeds brilliantly in provoking one to think about the questions that matter .’ The Evening Standard

‘[On Germany] benefits from a harvest of cross-cultural encounters gathered over many years of travel . . . waitresses, landladies and drinking companions become informants and case studies . . . tantalising.’ —The Times Literary Supplement

‘Giles MacDonogh has repeatedly shown himself to be in the front rank of British scholars of German history.’ — The Spectator

‘The story of a country reborn . . . an all-embracing book.’ The Budapest Times

‘A fascinating romp through German history — engaging, honest and personal — that unfolds like a fine after-dinner conversation with a particularly erudite friend.’ — Rory MacLean, author of Berlin: Imagine a City

‘Forensic political and historical analysis, telling cultural detail and deep insights, with good jokes and fascinating twists. Want to know what happened to Nazi art after 1945? Or what the East German government thought of Elvis Presley? There are some excellent books on Germany; MacDonogh matches the best.’ — Frederick Taylor, author of The Berlin Wall and Exorcising Hitler

‘Giles MacDonogh’s splendid little book draws on his extensive historical insight and personal experience of mainland Europe’s most important country. This highly personal and quirky work deftly intertwines human stories, superb anecdotes and historical-political set pieces, garnished with food and drink, to remind us of why Germany continues to intrigue us.’ — Brendan Simms, Professor of the History of European International Relations, Cambridge University, and author of Britain’s Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation


Giles MacDonogh is an acclaimed historian and sometime food, wine and travel writer. This is his fifteenth book and his eighth on Germany. Previous works include biographies of Frederick the Great and the last Kaiser, histories of Berlin and Prussia, and a bestselling book on the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. He lives in London.

Request an academic inspection copy Request a press review copy
Inspection Copy Request
Review Copy Request
Join our mailing list

Subscribers receive exclusive discounts and early access to new books from Hurst.