1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
this took me 17 months to read!,
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This review is from: Springtime For Germany: or How I Learned to Love Lederhosen (Paperback)
(writing in a rush, so if my tenses/grammar etc is off i apologise!!)
I'm a Germanophile and i've been to Germany 6 or 7 times in the last two years and I love Germany. I have friends in Germany and i am painfully in love with the country. I have a German boyfriend and have spent a lot of time with his family. Most of my fellow Brits think I'm a bit weird for loving Germany so much, i make Germans miss Germany. I'm that bad! so lets get that clear at the start of this review! basically i'm biased. also lets get it clear that when i read this i had a head start on many people, because i have read/watched an obscene amount about Germany, i read German newspapers etc. However when i started this book (17 months ago!) i had read less, been there less etc. the information in this book is very useful and did give me an insight into the German spirit. It did help, when i was having conversations with Germans, to have knowledge i'd absorbed from the book, so i could sound like a giant geek and say 'I've read about that...!' To be honest i probably didn't need to read this book any faster than i did! I'm glad I've read it and glad i have it, but a lot of the stuff in there i, personally, have/could have found out first hand for myself from my friends.
i find this book very difficult to describe! I - as already stated - found this book incredibly difficult to read/finish! i had to keep putting it down and coming back to it later i'd read a chapter or half a chapter and get fed up or bored and wander off to another book! i kept forgetting about it and then remembering it and trying to force myself to read it! It's very heavy with cultutral and historical information, there is a side helping of the typical english-impression-of-anything-german, which is obviously being expanded during the course of the book. he has a prejudice/ignorance about German wine - for example - which i found very typical of English attitudes. and actually it's very typical of German attitudes towards German wine! most Germans I've met think their own wine is rubbish! except Riesling of course!
i respect the man for doing what he did in Germany, he actually got naked in a german sauna, which is something i refuse to do (by the way i have met Germans who don't want to be naked in saunas lol.) and, i suppose, i find it difficult to relate to a lot of his ORIGINAL opinions about Germany. He tends to start in one mode of thinking and then progress to another. so his impressions/prejudices are gradually being changed and expanded to allow a more realistic image of Germany to creep through.
i found some sections offensive. on page 233 he becomes a borderline misogynist when he says all high culture such as classical music, art, literature, philosophy are resilient male and strong, while the world of consumerism and celebrities is more feminine! i didn't like that!
overall i'd say the book is a good history/culture lesson!
His impression of modern Germany, while accurate, is not, in my opinion, complete, since he doesn't really have long conversations with Germans about anything significant.for example when he goes to Berlin, he seems to meet no one there and do nothing, as far as i can discern he goes to a coffee shop! that's all i know. He then goes on to describe the atmosphere of Berlin which i felt was fairly accurate and describing atmosphere is a good thing to do, but then he again lapses into history and culture. then he makes several judgements about Berlin, but i can't tell what those judgements are really based on, as he doesn't recount any conversations with people or even say that he met people. This book, obviously, lacks that 'insider' aspect. but it is a good place to start. Bear in mind, though, the question of how he is getting his impressions and whether he is judging the place fairly or accurately. but this is also HIS personal opinion.
i DID agree with a lot of his conclusions and he did bring to light a few interesting points, about Berlin, for example, he questions whether being artistic in Berlin is no longer a political/personal expression of someone's individuality, are people NOW going to Berlin to be poor artists because it's cool/trendy to do so! Berlin has a certain unique history, it always attracted weirdo's and misfits and still does. but how genuine is it in the 21st century?! this is a very good point/question which had risen in my mind when I was there!
i do think the book is lacking some kind of bibliography or further reading/viewing section, because he makes reference to a lot of writers, musicians, films etc which i feel could be put in list form in the back for reference!!