Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (Hardback)
  • Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (Hardback)
  • Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (Hardback)
Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (Hardback)

Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (Hardback)

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Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 27/08/2020

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Waterstones Says

Blending politics, memoir and travelogue, Kampfner’s affectionate and deeply researched volume explores the development of post-war Germany into a stronghold of democracy – and the lessons its story holds for us all.

Longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2021

Emerging from a collection of city states 150 years ago, no other country has had as turbulent a history as Germany or enjoyed so much prosperity in such a short time frame. Today, as much of the world succumbs to authoritarianism and democracy is undermined from its heart, Germany stands as a bulwark for decency and stability.

Mixing personal journey and anecdote with compelling empirical evidence, this is a critical and entertaining exploration of the country many in the West still love to hate. Raising important questions for our post-Brexit landscape, Kampfner asks why, despite its faults, Germany has become a model for others to emulate, while Britain fails to tackle contemporary challenges. Part memoir, part history, part travelogue, Why the Germans Do It Better is a rich and witty portrait of an eternally fascinating country.

Publisher: Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781786499752
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 568 g
Dimensions: 225 x 148 x 23 mm
Edition: Main


Excellent and provocative... a passionate, timely book. - Sunday Times

A fine new book... One of the best English-language introductions in recent years to modern Germany and its politics: thoughtful, deeply reported and impeccably even-handed. - The Times

A rich guide to modern Germany... For the British readers this book is directed at, the implied contrasts are startling. German conservatism produced Angela Merkel, easily the most respected democratic leader in the world, while the English variety produced Boris Johnson. - Guardian

Highly readable and well-informed... [Kampfner] mixes historical sweep with vivid reporting to celebrate Germany's strengths and achievements. - Financial Times

A revelation of a book... with insights based on painstaking research and evidence gleaned from months crisscrossing the country... Kampfner's analysis is simply peerless. - Literary Review

A nuanced but compelling account... Kampfner marshals a convincing argument that other countries would be foolish to ignore Germany's emotional maturity and solidity. - New Statesman

Authoritative, timely and courageous, this is a compellingly readable book that raises profoundly important questions on history, our times and the future. - Philippe Sands, bestselling author of East West Street and The Ratline

A lively, affectionate portrait... A paeon to Germany. - Irish Times

Passionate yet carefully argued, Why The Germans Do It Better is a must-read. - James Hawes, author of The Shortest History of Germany

A well-argued case for learning from our German cousins. - Prospect

Smart, provocative and entertaining, this is a timely and enthralling love letter to our much misunderstood near neighbour. - Kay Burley

A forensic and highly readable account of Germany's ability to get things right. Kampfner's clear and unanswerable argument should be compulsory reading for every politician, civil servant and commentator in Britain. - John Simpson

We need a great book on Germany as the Merkel era ends: this is that book. It confronts the country's history, and charts with authority and affection its modern course with lessons for us all. - Lyse Doucet, BBC Chief International Correspondent

Kampfner's admiration of what post-war Germany has achieved doesn't blind him to her imperfections. Why the Germans Do It Better abounds with sharp analysis and telling anecdotes. A lively, very readable introduction to a country we ought to understand a lot better than we do. - David Lidington

One of Britain's most distinguished political writers. - Mail on Sunday

Kampfner roams widely in Germany and has a reporter's ear for the telling anecdote. He knows his history too. - Lionel Barber, The Spectator

There is plenty of good material here and the timing is impeccable. - TLS

A fascinating, affectionate and deeply researched portrait of Germany in the modern era -- Kampfner vividly brings Germany's turbulent history to life, and explains its profound influence on Europe today. Why The Germans Do It Better is essential for all who want to understand what Britain should do post-Brexit. - Sir Anthony Seldon, author of May at 10

Germany's success in tackling the great pandemic of 2020 has surprised many. John Kampfner shows why it should not have done so. This is a compelling account of how, in two generations, a country adopted the principles of liberal democracy, then mastered them, and now has more to teach us than we might wish to admit - Baroness Catherine Ashton, former EU High Representative and former Leader of the House of Lords

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“Thoughful and Fascinating”

Germany has become one of the most prosperous and forward seeking countries in the world in recent times and for those wondering how this state of affairs has occurred I would heartily recommend John Kampfner has... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 68


This did not live up to what I expected. I just found this book so boring because it seemed to only discuss politics. There are lots of things why Germany is a great nation but Kampfner made this a political memoir of... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 56

“A vital corrective for anti-German sentiment”

If you wanted to create a more provocative title, then it’s hard to see how you could better than that for this volume, published late last year.

It will inflame hardcore, Brexit-loving exceptionalists (never a bad... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 49

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