Learning from the Germans
‘An ambitious and engrossing investigation of the moral legacies which stubbornly refuse to pass’ Brendan Simms
As the western world struggles with its legacies of racism and colonialism, what can we learn from the past in order to move forward?
Susan Neiman’s Learning from the Germans delivers an urgently needed perspective on how a country can come to terms with its historical wrongdoings. Neiman, who grew up as a white girl in the American South during the civil rights movement, is a Jewish woman who has spent much of her adult life in Berlin. In clear and gripping prose, she uses this unique perspective to combine philosophical reflection, personal history and conversations with both Americans and Germans who are grappling with the evils of their own national histories.
Through focusing on the particularities of those histories, she provides examples for other nations, whether they are facing resurgent nationalism, ongoing debates over reparations or controversies surrounding historical monuments and the contested memories they evoke. It is necessary reading for all those confronting their own troubled pasts.
Ambitious and detailed... ranges from the initial reluctance of German citizens to begin the process of truth and reconciliation to small-town Mississippi, and the shooting of nine African American American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina * The Guardian * Growing up in the American south during the civil rights era, and spending much of her adult life in and around Berlin as a Jewish woman, Neiman has a keen ear for discomforts and awkwardnesses and the tics of guilt and avoidance -- Anne McElvoy * The Observer * Susan Neiman relates hard truths from which others shrink. Her audacious work is a refreshing change from those, afraid to offend, who leave unsaid things that seem self-evident. * The Guardian *
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