Student Review: A History of Modern Germany: 1800 to the Present

February 23, 2012

Author: Martin Kitchen

Edition: Second

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Pages: 440

Price: £22.99 and £14.99

ISBN: 9780470655818 and 9781444396898 (e-book)

A History of Modern Germany: 1800 to the Present provides a highly informative account of the complex and compelling nature of Germany’s modern history. Martin Kitchen does a fine job of surveying the key political events and upheaval, while still managing to focus on German society and ensuring that both politicians and ordinary people are rightfully accounted for.

The text aims to offer a broad overview of two centuries of German history, focusing on key events such as the country’s unification and the rise of the Nazis, as well as the change in German culture and society over the period. The author has also endeavoured to include and analyse the key historiographical issues, by providing students of this period with knowledge of events and how historians have interpreted them.

One of the book’s main strengths is its well-organised layout, which serves to make the narrative easily comprehensible. This structured approach ensures that the main points of each era of modern German history are easily accessible and are sufficiently detailed to provide the reader with an adequate knowledge base on each point. Furthermore, students will undoubtedly find Kitchen’s superb analysis, as well as his flowing narrative style, most valuable companions. He has achieved a great feat here: a textbook that is easy and fun to read.

But although the book provides an excellent summary of the themes and events of this period, its mandate is not to offer an extensive study of each of the topic areas. It offers a solid introduction to many of the most important areas of modern German history, but one would have to research elsewhere to find a deeper understanding. Moreover, the text is largely a narrative of the major themes and events; it does not furnish greater amounts of historical data, such as detailed figures, that could be incorporated into parts of undergraduate readers’ own work.

Overall, Kitchen offers a well-written and useful text for anyone studying or interested in modern German history. It will adequately prepare undergraduates undertaking a module on this subject through its overview of the key events, themes and problems, as well as important historiographical issues.

Who is it for? History undergraduates.

Presentation: Clearly structured.

Would you recommend it? Yes.

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