I first studied German over twenty years ago, and found it isn't like riding a bicycle -- if you let it go, it goes. I've studied several languages, so perhaps I can be forgiven, but when I started seminary I found that there were various pieces that were important to read that could only be found in German, or while they were available in English translation, the original language was important to capture the nuances of the arguments. When I looked to my old textbooks for German, they didn't seem designed to be re-learned quickly.
I was very pleased to find this book, German Quickly. As a seminarian, I appreciated the fact that the author April Wilson had also been through a divinity programme. She specialised in teaching German to graduate students who needed to quickly capture the language so that they could read fairly high-level academic articles and texts for their studies. This particular book is very good at helping students in the humanities -- German is also important for those in the sciences, but this book does not cover the particular scientific terminology; that being said, this would be a good primer for German generally, and students could then go on to master the nuances of scientific language.
One of the best features of this text are the stories and text samples at the ends of the sections. Wilson takes these from all manner of sources -- the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac from the Bible, pieces from works by Martin Buber and Friedrich Nietzsche, and other writings make for interesting, realistic learning. These are not artificial constructs, but rather perfect examples of the kinds of actual reading that needs to be done.
There is also humour and style in the 'ordinary' exercises. How does one translate 'Ich bin ein Berliner'? Who can forget the language when one translates phrases such as 'Kinder und Narren sagen die Wahrheit'? (Children and fools speak the truth.) These are actual exercises. The one drawback for personal study is that not all the exercise solutions are given in the back of the book.
There is a very good section on German dictionaries, giving the strengths and weaknesses of many of the major German dictionaries available. She actually has the brilliant suggestion of having two dictionaries -- a smaller paperback version that gives quick-and-dirty definitions, and then a larger hard-back dictionary that fills in the nuances of the words. Using only the larger one will slow down the beginning reader. This suggestion is one of but many that makes this text a real gem.
This book is for reading comprehension; writing can be learned from it, but it really doesn't focus upon that. Nor does it concentrate on German as a spoken language -- there is a pronunciation key at the beginning, and German is much more standard than English in pronunciation according to spelling, but this book is not intended to train speakers or listeners in German. It is as its title suggests -- a grammar for reading German, quickly. In that, it succeeds admirably.