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 more rampant within 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 again 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 relationships 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


Germany is a country with a deep and complex history. Arguably there is no greater culture and no country has contributed more to the development of human ideas and creativity. Nor has any country sunk deeper into the abyss or experienced such redemption and renewal. It is this that instils the German story with a profound and universal significance.

A generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall much of Europe remains uncertain about its identity and direction. As Britain prepares to leave the European Union these uncertainties are greater than ever. The euro and migrant crisis have seen Germany reluctantly assume a prominent role among the states of the European Union, but outright leadership remains deeply problematic for a country haunted by its past.

What part will Germany – a land where over a long history of people have adopted layered identities – play in this new Europe? Whatever the answer, the implications for Britain and the future of the wider European project 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 Deny, Brexit and the British: Who are we now? and co-authored Unwritten Rule: How to Fix the British Constitution.

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