Books: Biography • Culture • History
In association with Amazon.com and Amazon.de, we offer the following recommended books related to travel and life in the German-speaking countries. These titles can be purchased directly from our bookstore. See the various book categories below. Also see our section for Books in German (Bücher auf Deutsch).
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90 Years of Bauhaus Design: 1919-2009
By Jeannine Fiedler. H.F. Ullmann. Hardcover, 630 pages.
Today, more than 85 years after its inception, the Bauhaus style still emanates vitality. As a school that strove to combine applied art with both the fine arts and technology, the Bauhaus movement has outlasted all other trends in architecture and design.
The Bauhaus: 1919-1933 - Reform and Avant-Garde
By Magdalena Droste. Taschen. Paperback, 96 pages.
Founded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus school developed a revolutionary approach that fused fine art with craftsmanship and engineering in everything from architecture to furniture, typography, and even theater.
The Bauhaus Ideal: Then and Now - An Illustrated Guide to Modernist Design and Its Legacy
By William Smock. Academy Chicago Publ. Hardcover, 630 pages.
Review excerpt: “Smock energetically examines the legacy of the Bauhaus, a post-World War II German school of design founded by Walter Gropius to replace Victorian-era design with machine-age style. Citing embodiments of the famous dictums 'form follows function,' 'truth to materials,' and the linking commandment 'less is more,' Smock analyzes visual efficiency and modernism’s appeal to reason, especially in architecture.”
Bauhaus and Bauhaus People: Personal Opinions and Recollections of Former Bauhaus Members and Their Contemporaries
By Eckhard Neumann. Van Nostrand Reinhold. Hardcover, 302 pages. An extensive look at the German Bauhaus school of architectural and industrial design and its many talented contributors, such as Walter Gropius.
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Phrasebooks and Dictionaries
More than your average phrasebook, Perfect Phrases in German shows you how to be a well-mannered visitor and speak German in the correct context. Any phrasebook can give you a list of essential phrases. But if you use a phrase or term without knowing the correct way to use it, you can find yourself in an embarrassing situation. This book addresses that problem. You get the basics, but you also get a lot more background and guidance on how to use these words and phrases correctly without making a faux pas, so you can enjoy a smoother adventure in Germany.
Rick Steves, bestselling author of travel guides to Europe, offers well-tested phrases and key words to cover every situation a traveler is likely to encounter.
Langenscheidt Pocket Phrasebook German
Over 800 essential phrases and a 2800 word dictionary. From Langenscheidt: "It's no longer necessary to learn a new language to travel abroad because with the Langenscheidt Pocket Phrasebook German you can communicate even without German skills. The reliable phrasebook contains essential words and phrases organised by topic so you can create the sentences you need at this moment."
Pocket German Dictionary:
German-English / English-German
By Langenscheidt. Vinyl cover. A convenient reference for everyday use containing a comprehensive vocabulary with examples of usage and many idiomatic expressions, grammatical information on German nouns and verbs, and useful appendices with irregular verbs, abbreviations, numerals, weights and measures. Over 55,000 references.
Deutsch macht Spaß! An easy-to-understand German grammar review with Hagar® and Peanuts® cartoons in German
by Brigitte S. Dubiel - Published by Humboldt American Press
Deutsch macht Spaß! means "German is fun!" Living up to its title, the book makes clever and targeted use of German versions of amusing Hagar® and Peanuts® cartoons to review German grammar and vocabulary. Avoiding grammatical mumbo jumbo, the author clearly and concisely shows you how German sentences are put together. Includes online audio and supplements. More…
The Everything Learning German Book
By Edward Swick. Paperback.
Speak, Write and Understand Basic German in No Time. From Amazon: "Whether you're a first-time learner, a re-learner, or an international traveler, The Everything Learning German Book effectively teaches the German language through step-by-step instruction, practical exercises, and cultural information that make it both simple and entertaining. Readers learn pronunciation, parts of speech, and basic vocabulary and usage that can benefit students, travelers, restaurant-goers — and anyone seeking to learn the language upon which English is heavily based.
German: How to Speak and Write It
By Joseph Rosenberg. Paperback. Ideal as an introduction, supplement, or refresher. Modern course, with strong phrase material and a wealth of pictorial and amusement aids.
German Survival Guide: The Language and Culture You Need to Travel with Confidence in Germany and Austria
World Prospect Press. Paperback. 192 pages. This information-packed mini-course concentrates on preparing readers to travel in Germany and Austria in a limited time by focusing on what is most useful or interesting to travelers and cutting out unnecessary vocabulary and grammar.
- Need a cell phone for Europe? See Das Handy - Cell phones in Germany and Europe
AUSTRIAN AND GERMAN CUISINE
Cookbooks and Recipes
Austrian Cooking and Baking
By Gretel Beer. Paperback, 220 pages, Dover, 1975. 302 recipes.
Reader comment: “This book has back-to-back recipes and no pictures, which I found refreshing! It contains recipes for things I remember my grandmother had made but had never written down. I found it a jackpot of really heart warming recipes...”
Cooking the Austrian Way
By Helga Hughes. Lerner. Hardcover, 72 pages
An introduction to the cooking of Austria including such traditional recipes as Wiener schnitzel, potato noodles, and Sacher cake. Also includes information on the geography, customs, and people of Austria.
The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking
By Mimi Sheraton. Hardcover, Random House. 560 pages.
Customer review: “One of the best German cookbooks (in English)! Recipes are easy to follow and always turn out. Ingredients are easy to find. Out of 15 or more German cookbooks that I own, I use this one the most.”
The New German Cookbook: More Than 230 Contemporary and Traditional Recipes
By Jean E. Anderson, LaMar Elmore, Hedy Wurz. Hardcover, 416 pages, Harpercollins.
From Booklist: “Squashing stereotypes is one mission here, especially the myth of Germany as the 'capital of cabbage.' Another goal? To provide an authoritative yet up-to-date reference blending the best of the country’s old and new cuisines.”
FOLKLORE AND GERMANIC CULTURE
Deutsche Sagen und Legenden
By Herb Kernecker and Hyde Flippo. McGraw-Hill/NTC. Paperback, 152 pages.
An illustrated collection of legends from the German-speaking world. Over 20 familiar and lesser-known legends written for students and readers who have at least a basic reading knowledge of German. Difficult words are glossed and there is a complete German-English vocabulary list. Includes a legend map, exercises and questions for each legend.
Albert Speer: Conversations with Hitler’s Architect
By Joachim Fest. Polity. Hardcover. 180 pages.
Albert Speer remains the most mysterious character of the leadership of the Nazi regime. He was the chief architect of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler’s confidant. Speer built the 'Reichskanzlei' (official offices)... and was finally, in 1942, named minister for arms. But he characterized himself as apolitical, called Hitler’s hatred of Jews an anomaly, and the 20th of July conspirators placed Speer’s name on their cabinet list.
Einstein: His Life and Universe
By Walter Isaacson. Paperback.
Isaacson’s biography shows how Einstein’s scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. (Isaacson is also the author of the Steve Jobs bio.)
Einstein in Berlin
By Thomas Levenson. Bantam. Paperback. Amazon: “In a book that is both biography and the most exciting form of history, here are eighteen years in the life of a man, Albert Einstein, and a city, Berlin, that were in many ways the defining years of the twentieth century.”
The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria
By Christopher McIntosh. Paperback. From Amazon: “A biography of one of the most enigmatic figures of the 19th century, described by Verlaine as 'the only true king of his century'. …Ludwig II of Bavaria is remembered both for his patronage of Richard Wagner and for the fabulous palaces which he created as part of a dream-world to escape the responsibilities of state. In realization of his fantasies, he created a ferment of creativity among artists and craftsmen, while his neglect of Bavaria's political interests made powerful enemies among those critical of his self-indulgence and excesses. At the age of 40, declared insane in a plot to depose him, Ludwig died in mysterious circumstances.”
Stauffenberg: A Family History, 1905-1944
By Peter Hoffmann. McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press. Paperback. 424 pages. Review: “The story of three brothers, Berthold, Alexander, and Claus von Stauffenberg, whose lives evolve from idyllic childhood in a wealthy noble family to martyrdom in the resistance against Hitler.”
GERMAN AND EUROPEAN HISTORY
Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin
in the 1920s
By Otto Friedrich. Paperback. Harperperennial. 464 pages. A fascinating portrait of the turbulent political, social, and cultural life of the city of Berlin in the 1920s.
The Bürgermeister's Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town
By Steven Ozment. Paperback, 256 pages. Harper Perennial. This intimate look at life in 16th-century Germany reads more like fiction than the historical work it is. - From Amazon.com: “An award-winning scholar presents a haunting historical narrative about a rebellious 16th-century woman who brought scandal upon her family and sued her own father when he tried to disinherit her.”
What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933
By Joseph Roth. Paperback. W.W. Norton. 240 pages.
Booklist: “The writer's best novels from the 1920s and 1930s (e.g., The Radetzky March, 1932) remain in print. ...first his fiction, and now his journalism have been gathered together. A literally peripatetic writer--this volume's original German subtitle translates as 'a reader for walkers'--Roth ambled about 1920s Berlin with an incisive eye for the German society of the time. Disordered by a devastating war, its live-for-the-day side is snared by Roth, as is the widespread contempt toward the Weimar Republic. His capturing of the zeitgeist is so different from, and deeper than, ordinary journalism that modern, quotation-hunting reporters could learn much from him. He didn’t tell you Weimar was doomed, he showed you: in descriptions of the cultured interior of an assassinated minister's house; in portraits of Berlin’s Jewish district; in a trip to the city morgue. Eminently deserving of a renaissance, Roth’s articles are written with novelistic technique and will impress those who respect good writing.”
Hitler, the Holocaust and WWII
Hitler’s Willing Executioners:
Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Alfred A. Knopf. 656 pages. A hotly debated look at the why's of the Nazi era.
Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death
By Roger Moorhouse. Bantam. Paperback. 384 pages.
Publishers Weekly: “Although Hitler took his own life, there was no shortage of people who wanted, and attempted, to do it for him throughout his political career. Drawing on newly opened archives in Germany and elsewhere, British historian Moorhouse casts a wide net, chronicling failed assassination attempts by disaffected individuals in the early days of Hitler’s reign.”
Plotting Hitler’s Death:
The Story of the German Resistance
By Joachim Fest. Holt. Paperback. 448 pages.
Publishers Weekly: “Prodigious research and a commonsensical tone distinguish this compelling survey of the German resistance. Fest challenges the idea of 'everyday resistance' in Nazi Germany... Any attempt to give ordinary people a consequent role in resisting National Socialism founders, he contends, on the realities of a totalitarian system... Fest focuses on the men and women whose rejection of Nazism culminated in the July 20, 1944, attempt on Hitler’s life.”
The Third Reich at War
By Richard Evans. Penguin. Hardcover. 944 pages.
Publishers Weekly: “Evans concludes the masterful trilogy that began with The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power. As in those works, Evans demonstrates a fluent style and a sweeping grasp of the Third Reich’s history and of the enormous historical literature. The account is peppered with insightful anecdotes drawn from diaries, letters and speeches”
The Austrians: A Thousand-Year Odyssey
By Gordon Brook-Shepherd. Basic Books. Paperback, 512 pages.
Amazon.com: “With a lifetime’s personal intimacy with the country, friendships with several of its chancellors, and access to private Habsburg family archives, Brook-Shepherd traces the identity of a nation over a millennium at the heart of Europe’s political existence. Photos & maps.”
The Austrian Mind:
An Intellectual and Social History, 1848-1938
By William M. Johnston. UC Press. Paperback, 530 pages.
Reader comment: “Johnston’s book may not have everything that you ever wanted to know about the intellectual and cultural life of Austria-Hungary under the Hapsburgs, but if ever a single volume came close to having everything, then this is it.”
By Allan Janik. I.R. Dee. Paperback, 315 pages.
Review excerpt: “...a remarkable book about the most important and original philosopher of our age, the corrupt Austro-Hungarian Empire on the eve of its dissolution, and Vienna with its fin-de-siecle gaiety and its corrosive melancholy. Ludwig Wittgenstein was a brilliant and gifted young thinker who forged his ideas in a classical revolt against the stuffy, doomed, and moralistic lives of the old regime. As a portrait of Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein’s Vienna is superbly realized.”
Fiction Set in Germany
Berlin Noir: March Violets / The Pale Criminal / A German Requiem / 3 Novels in 1 Volume
By Philip Kerr. Paperback, 834 pages. Penguin.
A collection of mysteries set in World War II Germany. Reader Comment: “Rating=10. An excellent read at any time. If Raymond Chandler had written about Berlin rather than LA before the war, he would have been hard put to do better than these excellent tales.”
The Berlin Stories
By Christopher Isherwood. New Directions. Paperback. 256 pages.
The two novels that comprise “The Berlin Stories” made Isherwood’s literary reputation; they later became the basis for the play I Am a Camera (1951; film, 1955) and the musical Cabaret (1966; film, 1972).
By Philip Kerr. Paperback, 464 pages. Penguin.
From Publishers Weekly: “Fans of Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy will prize this briskly paced WWII-era spy thriller, which boasts plot twists that will keep readers’ heads spinning even after they’ve put it down.”
Into the Blue
By Rebecca Gault. Hardcover, 272 pages. Five Star, 2001
“A divorced mother of two embarks on a trip to Germany’s Westphalia, fulfilling a lifelong dream to study abroad.” A contemporary romance with cultural elements. See my review of this book (at About.com).
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