Recommendations by HF

German Way Store: Books and Other Items for Expats and Travelers

In our German Way Store you’ll find books, DVDs, travel items, and other products related to living, working or traveling in Germany, Austria and German Switzerland. Below are the personal recommendations from Hyde (HF), one of our German Way Expat Bloggers.

Book Tips

NEW in Biography
See more Biography titles below.


Andrea Wulf’s new biography of Alexander von Humboldt

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (Kindle) Also hardcover and audio versions.
See my review of this title, coming soon.
Amazon: Acclaimed author Andrea Wulf reveals the forgotten life [in the English-speaking world] of the visionary German naturalist whose ideas continue to influence how we view ourselves and our relationship with the natural world today. Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax-infested Siberia. He came up with a radical vision of nature, that it was a complex and interconnected global force and did not exist for man’s use alone. Ironically, his ideas have become so accepted and widespread that he has been nearly forgotten. Now Andrea Wulf brings the man and his achievements back into focus: his investigation of wild environments around the world; his discoveries of similarities between climate zones on different continents; his prediction of human-induced climate change; his remarkable ability to fashion poetic narrative out of scientific observation; and his relationships with iconic figures such as Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson. Wulf examines how his writings inspired other naturalists and poets such as Wordsworth, Darwin, and Goethe, and she makes the compelling case that it was Humboldt’s influence on John Muir that led him to his ideas of preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s Walden. Humboldt was the most interdisciplinary of scientists and is the forgotten father of environmentalism.


Berlin Noir: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem by Philip Kerr (Paperback or Kindle)
Amazon: “Ex-policeman Bernie Gunther thought he’d seen everything on the streets of 1930s Berlin. But then he went freelance, and each case he tackled sucked him further into the grisly excesses of Nazi subculture. And even after the war, amidst the decayed, imperial splendour of Vienna, Bernie uncovered a legacy that made the wartime atrocities look lily-white in comparison…” The BERLIN NOIR trilogy is a collection of three mysteries by Kerr: “March Violets” (a term of derision used to describe late Nazi converts), “The Pale Criminal” and “A German Requiem.”

HF: Why I recommend BERLIN NOIR: “I enjoyed getting into the atmosphere of a Berlin era that I never knew, but can compare to the Berlin of today. Plus, the mysteries are enjoyable reads.”


Fritz Lang bio Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast by Patrick McGilligan (Paperback or Kindle)
Amazon: The name of Fritz Lang — the visionary director of Metropolis, M, Fury, The Big Heat, and thirty other unforgettable films — is hallowed the world over. But what lurks behind his greatest legends and his genius as a filmmaker? Patrick McGilligan, placed among “the front rank of film biographers” by the Washington Post, spent four years in Europe and America interviewing Lang’s dying contemporaries, researching government and film archives, and investigating the intriguing life story of Fritz Lang. This critically acclaimed biography — lauded as one of the year’s best nonfiction books by Publishers Weekly — reconstructs the compelling, flawed human being behind the monster with the monocle.

HF: Why I recommend FRITZ LANG: “I like biographies in general, but this one delves into a fascinating Austrian personality who worked in Berlin and Hollywood. It’s very well-written, and also exposes Lang’s compulsive myth-making concerning his life.”

The German-born presidential security advisor and US Secretary of State (under Richard Nixon) is both revered and reviled. Here are several Kissinger biographies:

Henry Kissinger bio

Kissinger’s Shadow by Greg Grandin is one of several recent biographies.

Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman by Greg Grandin (Kindle, Hardcover or Audio)
Amazon: A new account of America’s most controversial diplomat that moves beyond praise or condemnation to reveal Kissinger as the architect of America’s current imperial stance.

In his fascinating new book, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin argues that to understand the crisis of contemporary America – its never-ending wars abroad and political polarization at home – we have to understand Henry Kissinger.

Examining Kissinger’s own writings, as well as a wealth of newly declassified documents, Grandin reveals how Richard Nixon’s top foreign policy advisor, even as he was presiding over defeat in Vietnam and a disastrous, secret, and illegal war in Cambodia, was helping to revive a militarized version of American exceptionalism centered on an imperial presidency. Believing that reality could be bent to his will, insisting that intuition is more important in determining policy than hard facts, and vowing that past mistakes should never hinder future bold action, Kissinger anticipated, even enabled, the ascendance of the neoconservative idealists who took America into crippling wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson (Kindle, Hardcover or Audio)
Amazon: No American statesman has been as revered or as reviled as Henry Kissinger. Once hailed as “Super K”—the “indispensable man” whose advice has been sought by every president from Kennedy to Obama—he has also been hounded by conspiracy theorists, scouring his every “telcon” for evidence of Machiavellian malfeasance. Yet as Niall Ferguson shows in this magisterial two-volume biography, drawing not only on Kissinger’s hitherto closed private papers but also on documents from more than a hundred archives around the world, the idea of Kissinger as the ruthless arch-realist is based on a profound misunderstanding.

The first half of Kissinger’s life is usually skimmed over as a quintessential tale of American ascent: the Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany who made it to the White House. But in this first of two volumes, Ferguson shows that what Kissinger achieved before his appointment as Richard Nixon’s national security adviser was astonishing in its own right.

Kissinger: A Biography by Walter Isaacson (Kindle, Paperback or Audio)
Amazon: By the time Henry Kissinger was made secretary of state in 1973, he had become, according to the Gallup Poll, the most admired person in America and one of the most unlikely celebrities ever to capture the world’s imagination. Yet Kissinger was also reviled by large segments of the American public, ranging from liberal intellectuals to conservative activists. Kissinger explores the relationship between this complex man’s personality and the foreign policy he pursued. Drawing on extensive interviews with Kissinger as well as 150 other sources, including U.S. presidents and his business clients, this first full-length biography makes use of many of Kissinger’s private papers and classified memos to tell his uniquely American story. The result is an intimate narrative, filled with surprising revelations, that takes this grandly colorful statesman from his childhood as a persecuted Jew in Nazi Germany, through his tortured relationship with Richard Nixon, to his later years as a globe-trotting business consultant.

A Few More Suggestions • Books Germany


Gay Berlin book cover

GAY BERLIN is one of Hyde’s latest non-fiction book picks.

In 2013 I wrote about German and Austrian Pioneers in LGBT Rights, including the Austrian Karl-Maria Kertbeny, who coined the word “homosexual,” the German Magnus Hirschfeld, who did groundbreaking research on gay and lesbian behavior, and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to out himself as gay (in 1862).

Now there’s a new book about these pioneers and the evolution of attitudes towards people of a “different” sexual persuasion. It’s a fascinating look at pre-Weimar Berlin and German history before the Nazis came to power. Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity by Robert Beachy (2015, Knopf/Random House) examines a period of German and Berlin history that is little known today.

Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (Kindle ebook or hardcover)
Amazon: “Known already in the 1850s for the friendly company of its ‘warm brothers’ (German slang for men who love other men), Berlin, before the turn of the twentieth century, became a place where scholars, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about new and emerging sexual identities. From Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German activist described by some as the first openly gay man, to the world of Berlin’s vast homosexual subcultures, to a major sex scandal that enraptured the daily newspapers and shook the court of Emperor William II—and on through some of the very first sex reassignment surgeries—Robert Beachy uncovers the long-forgotten events and characters that continue to shape and influence the way we think of sexuality today.”

From Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (Kindle ebook or hardcover)

Danubia book cover

DANUBIA is a non-fiction book tip from Hyde.

Danubia by Simon Winder (Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle)
Amazon: “A charmingly personal history of Hapsburg Europe, as lively as it is informative, by the author of Germania. – For centuries much of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire was in the royal hands of the very peculiar Habsburg family. An unstable mixture of wizards, obsessives, melancholics, bores, musicians and warriors, they saw off — through luck, guile and sheer mulishness – any number of rivals, until finally packing up in 1918. From their principal lairs along the Danube they ruled most of Central Europe and Germany and interfered everywhere — indeed the history of Europe hardly makes sense without the House of Hapsburg.”

HF: Why I recommend DANUBIA: “I haven’t yet read Danubia, but I have read Winder’s Germania, and if this book is like his previous one, you’ll enjoy Danubia very much.”

Berlin book

This title is one of Hyde’s history picks.

Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries by Rory MacLean (Kindle or hardcover)
Amazon: “Berlin is a city of fragments and ghosts, a laboratory of ideas, the fount of both the brightest and darkest designs of history’s most bloody century. The once arrogant capital of Europe was devastated by Allied bombs, divided by the Wall, then reunited and reborn as one of the creative centers of the world. Today it resonates with the echo of lives lived, dreams realized, and evils executed with shocking intensity. No other city has repeatedly been so powerful and fallen so low; few other cities have been so shaped and defined by individual imaginations.”

Get it from Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (hardcover only)

Wall Calendar

Germany 2015 by National Geographic (calendar)
Amazon: “National Geographic takes a special look at Germany’s natural and architectural beauty. Known around the world for scenic photography, NGS visits the country’s charming villages, historic castles, beautiful rivers, and great mountains. Featured in GERMANY 2015: Berlin Cathdral; St. Trudpert’s Cloister, Munstertal; Old Town Hall, Bamberg; Rococco Palace, Dornburg; Flensburg; …Saxon Switzerland National Park; Regensburg; Hohenzollern Castle; Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Ansbach. Each outstanding image is accompanied by fascinating National Geographic information and a large grid with moon phases and international holidays.”

A Few More Items • Austria

More Books in our Store.

Film Tips

Films on Blu-ray or DVD

Dr. No Blu-ray, DVD, or Amazon Instant Video
Set in Jamaica, DR. NO (1962) was the first Bond film, based on Ian Fleming’s 007 novels. Sean Connery set the standard for the on-screen character of James Bond. Swiss actress Ursula Andress made a memorable entrance in a bikini.

M Amazon Instant Video, HD or SD (Buy or rent)
The Austrian Fritz Lang directed Austrian actor Peter Lorre in this classic German film about a compulsive child murderer (Lorre). In German with English subtitles.

M (The Criterion Collection) DVD
Lang’s cinematic masterpiece on DVD.

More DVDs and Blu-ray in our Store.

Other Product Tips

Travel Suggestions • Luggage

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