1.0 out of 5 stars
Inaccurate, poorly written, out of date already, lacking any real insight., 11 Sep 2012
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 This book is outdated, poorly conceived and lacking in any real insights (despite the title's promise).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?
For the little that this book does contain there is much that has been omitted, not least "Why do German toilets have a poo-inspection shelf?", "How did football allow the country to embrace patriotism without feeling guilty or afraid of a resurgence of nationalism" and "Why do Germans eat breakfast off of little boards instead of plates?".
If you really want to gain some insight into the German mindset, read "Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters
" by Philip Oltermann (**an actual German**)