Non-fiction on the subjects of society, cultural history, history, biographies

Stefan Aust / Dirk Laabs: Heimatschutz. Der Staat und die Mordserie der NSU © Pantheon Verlag, München, 2014

Stefan Aust / Dirk Laabs
Heimatschutz. Der Staat und die Mordserie der NSU

It is two and a half years since the National Socialist Underground (NSU) was exposed and the public learned that for years, right-wing extremists had for been able to travel around the country and commit murder unchallenged by the security authorities. Yet the subsequent surprise, shock and outrage have largely subsided. Stefan Aust and Dirk Laabs want to change that through their book Heimatschutz. (…) Aust, former editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel magazine and chronicler of left-wing terrorism in the Federal Republic (Der Baader-Meinhof-Komplex – The Baader-Meinhof Complex) collaborates with co-author Laabs (…) to present the history of the NSU on nearly 900 pages, but also the government scandals connected with it.More ...
Heinz Bude: Gesellschaft der Angst © Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 2014

Heinz Bude
Gesellschaft der Angst

Twenty years ago, the word “precarious” was equivalent to “embarrassing” and “difficult”, and it was still used relatively infrequently. Since then, it has made a career for itself, referring to situations of uncertainty and life situations where it is practically impossible to make the right decision. The word’s upward mobility is symptomatic of the fact that fear impacts on the social atmosphere. (…) It is to his credit that sociologist Heinz Bude takes the many fears seriously. He does not want to persuade anyone that they are unfounded; he also does not try to reinforce them in order to sell an alarmist message.More ...
Diedrich Diederichsen: Über Pop-Musik © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2014

Diedrich Diederichsen
Über Pop-Musik

Pop music brings together a variety of elements. Diedrich Diederichsen says that “it is a combination of images, performances, (usually popular) music, lyrics and expectations associated with real people.” It is never just about the melody because a song touches on life in a multitude of different ways.More ...
Carolin Emcke: Weil es sagbar ist. Über Zeugenschaft und Gerechtigkeit © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2013

Carolin Emcke
Weil es sagbar ist. Über Zeugenschaft und Gerechtigkeit

On her travels in crisis areas such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Kosovo and Iraq, Carolin Emcke met many people who have suffered atrocities or disasters first-hand. Often, she says, the people concerned tell their stories in a confused, stuttering, non-linear way, making the content sound incredible to outsiders.More ...
Ines Geipel: Generation Mauer. Ein Porträt © Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart, 2014

Ines Geipel
Generation Mauer. Ein Porträt

In her new book, Ines Geipel deals with the subject of East Germans born after the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, that is to say, the book is about the group who had a “complete biography” before 1989.More ...
Lutz Hachmeister: Heideggers Testament. Der Philosoph, der Spiegel und die SS © Propyläen Verlag, Berlin, 2014

Lutz Hachmeister
Heideggers Testament. Der Philosoph, der Spiegel und die SS

This was to be the only interview of any length he granted journalists in his lifetime. He referred to his withdrawal from public life after 1945 as essential. For decades, he had nothing good to say about “hacks”.More ...
Ulrich Herbert: Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert © C. H. Beck Verlag, München, 2014

Ulrich Herbert
Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert

The main innovation here is the theory about the twentieth century, which goes by the name of “high modernism”. Herbert sees the high modern period as beginning in the last third of the nineteenth century and ending around 1990. This, the book’s first argument, enables those years, so incredibly furrowed in political terms, to be understood as a historical unit. The second argument is the exclusively German signature on the century, with its all-time low point in 1942, the year that marked the beginning of the systematic murder of the Jews.More ...
Yvonne Hofstetter: Sie wissen alles. Wie intelligente Maschinen in unser Leben eindringen und warum wir für unsere Freiheit kämpfen müssen © C. Bertelsmann Verlag, München, 2014

Yvonne Hofstetter
Sie wissen alles. Wie intelligente Maschinen in unser Leben eindringen und warum wir für unsere Freiheit kämpfen müssen

For the last five years, Hofstetter has been managing director of a company specialising in technology that can evaluate large amounts of data; she produces key big data technologies. Before that, she worked on defence industry contracts for software companies and for the much-criticised, computer-controlled stock exchange trading. She is part of what she is describing, as they say. (…).More ...
Marie Jalowicz Simon: Untergetaucht. Eine junge Frau überlebt in Berlin 1940-1945 
 © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2014

Marie Jalowicz Simon
Untergetaucht. Eine junge Frau überlebt in Berlin 1940-1945

Even those who know in theory that there were Jews who survived the Holocaust in Germany by going underground and spending years in hiding can be amazed by Marie Jalowicz Simon’s recollections. For it is only when one looks at a specific story that it becomes clear how what is easily said consists of hundreds of days and many thousands of hours, each of which presents problems that have to be overcome.More ...
Jürgen Kaube: Max Weber. Ein Leben zwischen den Epochen © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2014

Jürgen Kaube
Max Weber. Ein Leben zwischen den Epochen

With an admirably light touch, Kaube creates an intellectual panorama where the theories on capitalism of Georg Simmel and Werner Sombart are to be found alongside Kafka’s reception of an essay on bureaucracy by Alfred Weber, and Max Weber’s pupils Robert Michels, Georg Lukács und Carl Schmitt, who later became affiliated with various totalitarian persuasions.More ...
Jörn Leonhard: Die Büchse der Pandora. Geschichte des ersten Weltkriegs © C. H: Beck Verlag, München, 2014

Jörn Leonhard
Die Büchse der Pandora. Geschichte des ersten Weltkriegs

In Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box), his monograph of the history of World War I, Freiburg historian Jörn Leonhard has compiled a masterly account. This is an outstanding achievement. This book of more than 1,000 pages weighs heavily in one’s hand, and it will be just as weighty in historical research of years to come. (…) Leonhard no longer lingers in national historical perspectives, but sets his sight on the wider global interconnections. He shows how the war reached and changed countries in four continents.More ...
Meinhard Miegel: Hybris: die überforderte Gesellschaft © Propyläen Verlag, Berlin, 2014

Meinhard Miegel
Hybris: die überforderte Gesellschaft

Miegel sees left-wing criticism of capitalism as being too narrow, but he is decisive in stating that it is an all-exploitative economic form that degrades people into compulsive consumers. Thankfully, he does not mock, instruct or despise such people. Miegel is no moralist, which is what makes him so convincing. He sees the tragedy and backs it up with the latest figures from the Allensbach Institute. An overwhelming majority of citizens, 75 per cent, know that they consume too much. They want to cut back (72 per cent), use less electricity (76 per cent), heat more economically (61 per cent) and buy regional products (60 per cent).More ...
Stefan Müller-Doohm: Jürgen Habermas. Eine Biographie © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2014

Stefan Müller-Doohm
Jürgen Habermas. Eine Biographie

Habermas, who will be 85 years old next Wednesday (18 June 2014, editor’s note), will be receiving his first major biography in time for his birthday (...). It was written by Stefan Müller-Doohm, a retired professor of sociology in Oldenburg, whose voluminous biography of Theodor W. Adorno was published in 2003. On 750 pages, he now presents the life and works of the “world’s most famous philosopher”, as legal theorist Ronald Dworkin once called him.More ...
Herfried Münkler: Der große Krieg. Die Welt 1914-1918 © Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2013

Herfried Münkler
Der große Krieg. Die Welt 1914-1918

On 4 August 1914, German troops invaded Belgium, and the aim was to reach France within a week. The soldiers had been promised that they would be home for Christmas. Instead, they became embroiled in a war of attrition. And just two weeks after the invasion of Belgium, Russian troops attacked East Prussia. The flashpoints did not remain confined to a particular region, but were linked.More ...
Christian Schmidt-Häuer: Erlebte Weltgeschichte. Prag, Polen, Moskau, Ungarn, Rumänien 1968-2013 © Donat Verlag, Bremen, 2014

Christian Schmidt-Häuer
Erlebte Weltgeschichte. Prag, Polen, Moskau, Ungarn, Rumänien 1968-2013

“Nothing is older than yesterday’s newspaper” is a saying popular among journalists. At a time when some people fear that newspapers themselves have had their day, Christian Schmidt-Häuer’s book is an appropriate antidote.More ...
Hilal Sezgin: Artgerecht ist nur die Freiheit. Eine Ethik für Tiere oder Warum wir umdenken müssen © C.H. Beck Verlag, Munich, 2014

Hilal Sezgin
Artgerecht ist nur die Freiheit. Eine Ethik für Tiere oder Warum wir umdenken müssen

“Artgerecht ist nur die Freiheit” (Only Freedom is Species-appropriate) is another book that questions our relationship to animals, like „Zoopolis“, Karen Duves „Anständig essen“ (Eating Decently) and, of course, Jonathan Safran Foer’s book „Tiere essen“ (Eating Animals), which was a bestseller a few years ago. Sezgin’s book deserves the same attention because it continues where Foer left off and questions our everyday habits.More ...
Peter Sloterdijk: Die schrecklichen Kinder der Neuzeit. Über das anti-genealogische Experiment der Moderne © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2014

Peter Sloterdijk
Die schrecklichen Kinder der Neuzeit. Über das anti-genealogische Experiment der Moderne

Human beings are animate beings who, from one generation to the next, can move on to new forms of communitisation, belief, culture and commerce, with sons breaking away from their fathers’ customs. That used to be called “sin”; nowadays it is called “innovation”. (...) In biological and family terms, “generations” may be declared to be the anthropological existential, the basic unit of historicity and historical time.More ...
Reiner Stach: Kafka. Die frühen Jahre © S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2014

Reiner Stach
Kafka. Die frühen Jahre

When Reiner Stach published the first volume of his biographical trilogy in 2002, he surprised readers by starting with the middle of his subject’s life. In the second volume, he moved on from that point to Kafka’s death and has only now returned to the beginning in the final part. (…) At the “beginning of the performance” Stach exposes the political and social tensions within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following the opening scene, he goes back as far as the Prague defenestration of 1618 and proceeds from that incident to search for Kafka’s ancestors.More ...
Philipp Ther: Die neue Ordnung auf dem alten Kontinent. Eine Geschichte des neoliberalen Europa © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, 2014

Philipp Ther
Die neue Ordnung auf dem alten Kontinent.
Eine Geschichte des neoliberalen Europa

Did Europe experience a revolution in 1989? Was there a common denominator to the upheavals in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s? At the time, many of those involved spoke of a revolution, but added qualifying adjectives such as “peaceful” (GDR), “velvet” (in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia), “gentle” (Slovakia) or “singing” (Estonia) in order to underline the non-violent character of the transition without casting doubt on the heroic, risky and selfless nature of the protagonists’ actions.More ...
Volker Weidermann: Ostende. 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Köln, 2014

Volker Weidermann
Ostende. 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft

The moment in which to unfold the panorama of German literature one last time before its protagonists had to flee for their lives in all directions is aptly chosen. For anyone who had eyes to see, it was clearly evident in the summer of 1936 that the National Socialists would not be satisfied with merely ruling over Germany. However, others at the time wanted to foster the illusion that an authoritarian era had been temporarily imposed on Germany and Italy which one day in the not too distant future would be brought to an end through democratic resistance in those countries.More ...
VHeinrich August Winkler: Geschichte des Westens. Vom Kalten Krieg zum Mauerfall © C. H. Beck Verlag, München, 2014

Heinrich August Winkler
Geschichte des Westens. Vom Kalten Krieg zum Mauerfall

In this third volume of his History of the West, Heinrich August Winkler presents a voluminous fundamental work just three years following publication of the previous volume. While the history of the “West” is in the title, it is actually a political world history of the second half of the twentieth century. (...) Winkler describes the most important transnational processes:More ...