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Historians examining nations over periods of time have somehow to find a balance between what is inherent in a people and what is not, in order to attempt explanations of national attitudes and conduct. This balance is not often found in the study of Germany during the fateful pre-Hitler period. The question is clear enough: Why did a civilized Central European power suddenly and swiftly descend into moral depths?...[A unified explanation] is unlikely to be found. But Peter Fritzsche has come up with new light on an old question. Instead of starting from 1918, he goes further back, and...looks at Germany as a nation undergoing redefinition, an animal changing out of all recognition...Fritzsche writes attractive, polished prose, and non-specialists should have no trouble in following his line of thought.
— Ralph Amelan