Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History (The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures)

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9781584658665: Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History (The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures)
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In this rich and thought-provoking work, Jürgen Kocka focuses his analytic lens on Germany’s long twentieth century, from the empire to the present. He begins by establishing the semantic problematic in the German term Bürgertum and presenting an analytical survey of German civil society over the past 120 years. He then offers a fascinating social history of the GDR, along with a comparative analysis of the East German dictatorship and that of the Third Reich. He further compares Germany’s “two dictatorships” in regard to historical memory, post-regime justice, and historiography before and after reunification. Kocka concludes with a wonderfully expansive view of historical interpretation and even argues for the place of trendiness and fashion in the profession.

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About the Author:

JÜRGEN KOCKA was president of the Social Science Research Center in Berlin until 2007 and professor of modern history at the Free University of Berlin until 2009. He has published numerous books, including Industrial Culture and Bourgeois Society.

Review:

“The essays in this volume cover a wide range of issues from the rise of civil society in the eighteenth century to contemporary controversies about the end of the Cold War. They are all shaped by Jürgen Kocka’s distinctive virtues as a scholar: broad learning, analytical rigor, and good sense. Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History provides a splendid introduction to one of Germany’s smartest and most productive historians.” (James J. Sheehan, Stanford University)

“Starting with the rich research on the rise and development of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, one of Germany’s most distinguished historians of social change in Central Europe, traces its transformations up to the present. He ends with an illuminating discussion of social life under the Nazi and East German dictatorships and with how scholars have dealt with the shifting issues of truth and fashion in their work. Historians and social scientists will find this volume invaluable for their own work and for introducing advanced undergraduates and graduate students to the complexities of modern German history.” (V.R. Berghahn, Columbia University)

“Excellent lectures on key aspects of modern German history and historiography by a preeminent historian, beginning with a subtle disquisition on civil society and proceeding to a review of the various ways in which historians have dealt with their Nazi and East German pasts. A felicitous combination of analytical sharpness and admirable command of relevant literature. Imperative for anyone interested in German history but suggestive for all historians. Also reflections on the work of historians in the last decades, with an eye on emerging transnational efforts, of which the author is a distinguished practitioner.” (Fritz Stern, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University)

“Ever since the eruption of the heated ‘Historikerstreit’ nearly three decades ago, Jürgen Kocka has justly been ranked among Europe’s finest living historians. These essays show him at his best: a measured inventor of new ways of seeing things, a careful analyst of the detailed causes and causers of events, a sober critic of abstruse intellectual games, an engaged historian for whom interpretations of the past really matter to the present, and to our future.” (John Keane, University of Westminster/Wissenschaftzszentrum Berlin)

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