Reluctant Meister

Stephen Green

‘For Stephen Green, Germany’s greatest achievement has been in coming to terms with its history. ‘‘The process of confrontation has been neither easy nor quick,’’ he says. ‘‘There are many who have gone to their graves without being honest to themselves about their sins of omission and commission. But for all its imperfections, this atonement has been more thoroughgoing than in most other countries where human evil has been rampant with living memory.’’ It would be hard to put it better.’
Financial Times

‘The miracle, as Lord Green rightly points out, is that from this state of total collapse, Germany … rose agains to become a country with model democratic institutions and a highly successful economy.’
The Economist

‘A readable and personal introduction to German history – and above all its art, literature and music…[Stephen Green] sets out to correct and enlarge British perceptions of Germany, which, he argues, focus excessively on the Third Reich.’
Times Literary Supplement



‘Stephen Green traces the relationship between Germany and Europe over 2,000 years, from the Germanic tribes’ victory over the Romans to the Bundesrepublik’s cautious response to Ukraine. He guides us deftly through politics and poetry, theology and economics to allow the reader to understand how Germany  – the reticent giant – sees itself and its role in the Europe of tomorrow. This is the history that is now shaping our continent: Stephen Green is the ideal person to help us understand it.’ 
Neil MacGregor, author of Germany: Memories of a Nation.

‘The best book of 2014 was Reluctant Meister, Stephen Green’s superb analysis of German history and culture.’
The Globe and Mail

‘A pragmatic and courageous outlook on Germany’
Die Zeit

‘Green’s history is immensely readable. It is elegantly written and has a narrative that keeps the reader’s interest alive.’
German Studies Review

‘… one of the best, most analytical, honest accounts of Germany and its history.’ 
David Marx:Book Reviews


We don’t know enough about Germany, a country with an extraordinary past. Whilst innumerable books have been published on the Third Reich and the Holocaust, too rarely has the deep and complex history of the German lands been told in full. Yet arguably there is no culture greater than Germany’s.  No country has contributed more to the development of human ideas and creativity. No country has sunk deeper into the abyss or experienced such redemption and renewal, and it is this that instills the story of Germany with such a profound and universal significance.

A generation after the fall of the Wall much of Europe remains uncertain about its identity and direction. The introduction of a common currency, and the subsequent euro crisis, have seen Germany assume the role of reluctant leader. But outright leadership is anathema to a country still coming to terms with its past. In Reluctant Meister, Stephen Green asks what part Germany – a land where over a long history of people have adopted layered identities – might play in the new Europe in the years ahead. Whatever the answer, the implications for the future of the European Union as it seeks to define itself in the face of rising national discontent and the growing economic might of Asia will be profound.

STEPHEN GREEN was for most of his career an international banker. From 2011 to 2013 he was Minister for Trade and Investment in the British Government. He now has a range of international trade, on financial and professional services and on child poverty and development programmes. He chairs the Natural History Museum of London and is an ordained priest in the Church of England. Stephen is the author of Good Value: Money, Morality and on an Uncertain World, The European Identity: Historical and Cultural Realities we cannot DenyBrexit and the British: Who are we now? and co-authored Unwritten Rule: How to Fix the British Constitution.

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