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When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do: The Clued-in Guide to German Life, Language and Culture (When in...Do as the Locals Do) Paperback – 1 Jul 2002

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When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do: The Clued-in Guide to German Life, Language and Culture (When in...Do as the Locals Do) + Germany - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture + The Xenophobe's Guide to the Germans (Xenophobe's Guides)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Contemporary (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0844225533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0844225531
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.9 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Enjoy Germany and its culture without feeling like a Dummkopf

Do you want to blend in when visiting Berlin? To feel like you belong in Bavaria? When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do makes it simple! If you long to navigate the narrow streets of an Alpine village unnoticed or go to a movie in Munich without turning heads, transform yourself from a typical tourist into a connoisseur of culture. With this crash course in German customs and heritage, you'll avoid embarrassing blunders and enrich your travel experience.

Packed with almost one hundred articles, this handy collection of cultural dos and don'ts covers a broad range of topics, including food, art, pop culture, politics, business, entertainment, home life, history, and education. In these pages, you'll find authoritative answers to questions such as:

  • At a restaurant, should I find my own table or wait to be seated?
  • What is a suitable topic for small talk with a stranger in Germany?
  • Are gas stations open on Sundays?
  • What Goethe novel swept the world in the 1770s?
  • Where do Germans get their fascination with the American Wild West?
  • Can I use an ATM card in Germany?

With light-hearted quizzes, cool Internet addresses, and up-to-date insights into all aspects of German culture, When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do will delight everyone from students and tourists to armchair travelers and trivia buffs.

About the Author

Hyde Flippo is a German teacher, author, and online guide for the About.com site on German language.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Strange as it may seem, the German Shakespeare Society (die Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, DSG) is the world's oldest. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Graham Rust on 24 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
No fun to read, very little information, no real insight into the German character, many of the "facts" are contradicted by my personal experiences. How does the revelation that German post offices are a lot more modern than they used to be clue me in? Why does it deserve a star at all? It's short and cheap.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Johannsen VINE VOICE on 22 July 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is geared for the American market, so loses a bit of impact for UK readers. It could perhaps have been better, if written in plain english, rather than giving the impression of being a bit padded out. It does have some useful information though
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Jolley on 3 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
Author seems unaware that English people (as opposed to Americans) do not have a hang-up about the word toilet. He also commits a faux pas by listing famous German companies including Adidas but ommitting to mention Puma - this is a bit like a list of famous American brands that mentions Coca-cola but not Pepsi.
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Do not buy this book. I know it is cheap but trust me, a loo roll would be cheaper and more useful!

The problems are multiple. This book is outdated, poorly conceived and lacking in any real insights (despite the title's promise).

Firstly, this book is already 10 years old and in that time Germany has changed a great deal (that is, if the Germany in this poorly written book ever actually existed!) - one example is the chapter which discusses smoking in Germany and states "Germans are incredibly blasé about smoking...The smoking rate in Germany is only somewhat higher than in antismoking bastions such as the United States". Guess what? Yup, Germans now smoke less per capita than the USA. Furthermore, this book will tell you that Germany has but 2 private universities, present day Germany has 102 (that's approximately 1 in 3), and this sums up the scale of the change that has affected Germany in the last decade.

The author is clearly pitching this book towards an American audience and I must admit I found it rather ironic to read "Germans tend to be blunt, frank and - to Anglo-American eyes - tactless". Does the author have no sense of how the world views "Americans"? Which brings me to the my biggest issue with this (incredibly short, 'understanding-lite') book: it is riddled with stereotypes rather than insight:

The idea that Germans see overtime as inefficiency; don't like to smile for fear of appearing "weak-minded"; the notion that "Europeans" are a distinct species from "Anglo-Americans"; and the chapters dedicated to beer, bread and sausages all pander to pop culture clichés. And of what use is it to know that the German Post Offices are not like they used to be?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
159 of 162 people found the following review helpful
Those Surprising, Never Boring German Ways 22 July 2002
By Ron Hunka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do"
Hyde Flippo
ISBN 0-8442-2553-3
Hyde Flippo has written another interesting book about German ways, for Americans planning to go to Germany. It is a good follow-up to "The German Way". Sometimes writers of travel books try to provide insights that turn out to be misleading. Mr. Flippo, however, is neither travel writer nor dilettante and seems to know Germany well.
The book begins with a series of questions to test one's knowledge of things German. Despite having once lived in Germany, having traveled there several times recently, and being particularly interested in the German language and culture, out of the first ten questions, I could answer only three correctly.
The German washing machine is a case in point. Any American who has ever tried to do laundry at a German laundromat has discovered differences in the process. For starters, there hardly are any German laundromats. Next, a German washing machine may have a two-hour wash cycle, it uses hotter water, since it heats its own, and it spins the laundry to a near dry state.
Regarding the German language, Mr. Flippo cites a number of English sounding words commonly in use that Germans think are English words, which are not. A couple of examples are "die Basecap" which means "baseball cap", and "der Talkmaster", which refers to a "talk show host".
Flippo touches on other "Germanisms" which I have encountered. One is the idea that drinking tap water is unhealthy and should be avoided. A waitress I encountered in Austria explained that although it was okay for Americans to drink tap water that it was not good for Germans and Austrians. Germans tend to drink bottled mineral water, and asking for tap water, "das Leitungswasser", will not uncommonly be regarded as fairly strange behavior.
Another useful thing to know is that credit cards are not as universally accepted as they are in the U.S. Flippo warns that is best to never assume that a restaurant will accept your credit card. The same is true for smaller hotels and accommodations. As evidence, Flippo points out that although France has a population of about 58 million and Germany 82 million, 250,000 less locations in Germany accept credit cards.
One of the most entertaining chapters in the book is about household garbage in Germany. One is not allowed to simply put anything in one's garbage can. There are strict local rules for the separation of the various types of waste. Glass waste is not to be mixed with biodegradable waste, for example. Break the rules, and your garbage does not get picked up. By the way, the garbage disposal is not to be found in Germany, and it is in fact illegal, due to pollution considerations.
Despite previous familiarity with Germany, I acquired new information from this book and very much enjoyed reading it. Hopefully, in the future, Hyde Flippo will tell me some more that I do not know about the German-speaking world.
115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
Great Primer but NOT an Authoritative Guide to German Life 6 July 2003
By book worm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I could give this book a five start like the other reviewers, but I cannot due to my recent experience using this book in Germany.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a quick and entertaining introduction to German Life, Language, and Culture. But to someone who has already been to Germany, has an understanding of Deutsche Kultur, and/or is studying German I would recommend keeping an open mind to how limiting this book can be. Let me elaborate:
While the book does a superb job of starting with a quiz (and most Germans love quizes) and provides the quiz answers in the back, has supporting articles and web-sites throughout the book, and even has a map of the 16 Budesländer (federated States) it comes short of being Comprehensive or Authoritative.
What I had found when I used this book (quiz) with my friends and relatives in Germany is that:
a) Some answers may be debatable (section on 'Do As the Germans Do' and 'Know What the Germans Know').
b) Some statistics may have changed (section on 'Time,' 'Quantity' and 'Laws and Regulations') since the time Hyde Flippo wrote the respective articles.
In real life, Germans as a people are not as homogeneous as they come across when answering the quiz questions and reading the articles in this book. Many Germans identify first with the region (Bundesland) where they live in. Each region has their own traditions, festivals, and many time different public religious holidays (like the Catholic states in the southern part vs. the Protestant States central/northern Germany). As such, someone from Thüringen will answer some questions differently than someone from Berlin or someone from Hamburg. Nevertheless the sections on 'People,' 'Places' 'What's That?' are invaluable to anyone.
A companion book that I would recommend is Richard Lord's "Culture Shock - Germany, A Guide to Customes and Etiquette."
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Nice stories but it reinforces stereotypes and urban legends 20 Feb 2006
By Norman Rockwell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have lived in Germany for more than 20 years and am currently residing in the United States.

I bought this book as a gift for a friend. Browsing through it myself I found that some things pointed out in the book are on-spot (for example the "Sie und Du" section on how to address people, or insights on dining out).

However, some things covered in the book describe a Germany of 100 years ago (the "Hauptmann von Koepenick" episode, while factually correct, fails to point out that today's Germany fortunately has little resemblance to the Prussian-style military culture of yore described here).

And the chapter on "Kehrwoche" - purportedly an institution of cleaning the hallway in front of one's apartment - is an urban legend to me. Visitors to the town of Stuttgart have told me that they heard of people subjected to such neighborhood rituals. But in all my years in Germany I have never had anybody confirm such facts to me so it is a regional oddity at best. And again the author fails to put this into proper context, thus making today's Germans seem like some cleanliness-and-orderliness-obsessed oddballs to a much greater degree than they deserve.

So while there is some truth in all hyperbole I encourage you to buy a book written by somebody who has seen more than one or two cities and who has been to Germany recently.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Funny book! 24 Mar 2003
By richter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I truely had a lot of fun ready this book about Germans and German customs. I am myself German but I lived quite many years in foreign countries and read a lot of literature about other countries and there inhabitants. And I always wanted to read something about how others view the Germans. And I must say it was very amusing and the informations are realistic. And I recommended it to my friends, Germans and Non-Germans, as a good lecture. Everyone who can pass the test is really good prepared for staying in Germany. I must admit, that I could not answer everything correctly, but that way I even learned some interesting facts about my country, too.
50 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Undertones of disdain towards the German culture 22 Oct 2006
By A. Kimsey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Having lived in Germany for a year now, I decided to finally flip through this book, given to me as a parting gift in April 2005. As I read, I was appalled at Mr. Flippo's seeming dislike for Germans. The book is more of a warning for all the traveling American's to be on their guard rather than an informative guide. My favorite quote is, "This "pushy" behavior is not limited to Germans. It's a European thing" (p.31). This extraordinary generalization is quickly followed by the warning that you must either bring your own shopping bags or purchase one in a German grocery store and, as stated by Flippo, "to add insult to injury, you usually have to bag your own groceries". Gee, reducing waste by encouraging the reuse of shopping bags and keeping prices low by simply putting your Müsli in your own bag instead of hiring some prepubescent bag boy to do it for you is a pure abomination and should be henceforth considered "insult to injury" (I'm hoping you're noting my sarcasm). The book continues in this fashion, with hardly a bright comment to be had about this amazing culture. The only reason I'm giving this two stars instead on one is because the author does have a few nuggets of truth and interesting observations woven within his cleverly placed one-liner biases. If you still purchase this book, remember to read critically and differentiate opinion from facts.
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