Based on a lifetime living in and reporting on Germany and Central Europe, award-winning journalist and author Peter Millar tackles the fascinating and complex story of the people at the heart of our continent.
Focussing on nine cities (only six of which are in the Germany of today) he takes us on a zigzag ride back through time via the fall of the Berlin Wall through the horrors of two world wars, the patchwork states of the Middle Ages, to the splendour of Charlemagne and the fall of Rome, with side swipes at everything on the way, from Henry VIII to the Spanish Empire.
Peter recollects remarkable anecdotes from his time as a young journalist in Berlin from sneaking into the forbidden city of Kaliningrad, his expulsion from Germany after getting arrested on the streets of East Berlin during the demonstrations which accompanied Gorbachev's visit in 1989, being a target of the Stasi with 29 microphones hidden in the walls of his apartment and witnessing spectacular and transformative moments in history from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of the Soviet Union.
This book takes Peter – and the reader – from one side of the Germanic world to the other, from Königsberg on the Baltic (today’s Russian Kaliningrad), founded by the Teutonic Knights, to Strassburg on the banks of the Rhine (today’s French Strasbourg). We visit the restored great cities of Hamburg and Dresden, both all but eradicated by British and American bombers in World War II, to Berlin itself, the small northern city that became an imperial capital, and at the other extreme today’s capital of a small Alpine Republic, which for centuries was the German-speaking heart of Europe, while the Gates of Vienna were the last bulwark of Christendom.
The Germans and Europe includes mini portraits of German culture from sex and money to food and drink. Not just a book about Germany but about Europe as a whole and how we got where we are today, and where we might be tomorrow.
I've always found Germany, and Berlin in particular, to be fascinating. I'm descended from German Jewish refugees who came over to England prior to WWII, but, as you can imagine, they lost most of their family during the War, and as such saw little reason to visit their homeland at all. So it's a place I've always strived to find a connection too - and one I've often sought through history books and literature. Millar's personal tough ensures that this broad history has a personal touch to is - and his experience of life in Germany should ensure that this is a marvellously accurate read!
Peter Millar is an award-winning journalist, author and translator. Born in Co.Down. Ireland, Peter read French and Russian at Oxford, lived in Paris , then Brussels as a reporter for Reuters .In early 1981, at the age of 26, he was sent as correspondent to East Berlin, then to Moscow, where he lived three years, from the death of Brezhnev to the rise of Gorbachev. His career, including the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and European, took him to Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest and Belgrade, as well as throughout Germany.
Peter was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in 1989 for his reporting on the dying stages of the Cold War, his account of which – 1989: The Berlin Wall, My Part in its Downfall( 2009, 2014) – was named ‘best read’ by The Economist.
Peter’s books span both fiction and non-fiction including Stealing Thunder (1999) All Gone to Look for America (2009), The Shameful Suicide of Winston Churchill (2010), and Slow Train to Guantanamo (2013). He speaks, German, French, Russian and Spanish, as well as English.