Posted 10 June 2012 - 05:34 AM
I've just finished "The German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century," by Peter Watson. Though it's a bit removed from the Great War, I wanted to throw up a quick recommendation as I think it would make valuable background reading for anyone interested in Germany.
The author starts with an interesting summary of views of Germany, emphasizing that German history did not end (or begin) in 1945, and making the point that the period 1933-1945 tends to obliterate large swaths of German history in people's minds, making any comprehension of Germany, German society, and history much more difficult. Going back beyond the 20th century and examining the development of "Germaness" gives a much fuller picture and understanding of what Germany was in the 20th century--something valuable for study of the Great War. For example, the author argues that it was the 30 Years War that was the cataclysmic shaping event for Germany, not the Second World War.
I picked the book on the recommendation of a local friend, and I have to admit it was not something I would have probably pulled off the shelves while browsing the bookstore. I found it valuable to expand my understanding of Germany and her development, and could make many tie-ins to the Great War as well. His view that the 20th century should have been the "German Century" before being derailed by two world wars is especially interesting.